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In this article, Alice Piron considers the public art collection at the Chicago Harold Washington Library Center, notable for having the largest “Percent for Art Program” budget—at the time in excess of $1 million—and for having specific multicultural requirements. Works of art selected for the Library were to be in almost every artistic medium; recognized major art movements associated with Chicago; memorialize the late Mayor Harold Washington, and celebrate Chicago’s rich multicultural heritage. Piron discusses the artworks in the Library that were created by women and that most clearly satisfy the formal expectations of public art— monumentality, permanence, and prominent placement. She concludes by stating that the committee on public art succeeded in achieving its goals, but wonders why more of the major pieces were not representative of or commissioned from Chicago artists.


This document considers the political realm of public art, and the care and effort that must be taken to design and install a truly multicultural exhibition that contributes to the ICAA editorial category of "Issues of Race, Class and Gender in the Visual Arts of Latino-America." The document corresponds to another category as well, "Globalization and Its Latin American (Dis)/Contents," because the absolute necessity of ensuring that a public art space be multicultural could only arise in a place where the imperative of globalization has brought many different artists together.

Víctor Alejandro Sorell, Gabrielle Toth
Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, USA