Meet Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) Artist-in-Residence Jackie Chang, as she sits down with our Communications Intern Katie Culclasure to answer questions about her developing work for the JW Clay and University City Boulevard stations, as part of the CATS LYNX Blue Line Extension Project.
Your work blends images and words in public spaces so people can experience art in everyday life. Can you discuss your journey into public art?
My decision to only focus art for public space started about 17 years ago. I think it was 1995 when I installed my first public piece, after I had graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago. I started showing with a gallery there. I had a one person show, and the following year we started doing another one person show. It was at that time I had moved to New York and I was making outdoor awnings. I was making images and words on these awnings and I wanted to show them outside. I asked the gallery to help me do it, but they were not interested. They thought that I should show the work indoors, in the gallery space. That was when I decided that I needed to think about who I was making the art for. I felt that objects seen outside should be shown outside. I realized what I really wanted to do was be able to impact a general audience. Not be so exclusive. People aren’t that comfortable going to gallery spaces.
Before you were working on the awnings, did you have a particular medium you preferred to use?
I just liked materials. I used everything. Very found objects. Very tactile, but very sculptural.
CATS has just commissioned you to design art for the JW Clay and University City Blvd Lynx Blue Line Extension projects. Can you describe your vision for this project, and when it will be available for the public?
Construction will start on the first Blue Line Extension in 2014. My two stations are actually at the end. I think it should be done by 2016. It’s going to connect the University (of North Carolina, Charlotte) with the rest of the city. I think it’s much needed, and essential.
Are you staying in Charlotte, through the completion of the project?
No, I’m only here for a 3 months residency. The project will go through another phase of final design and then approval. That’s the thing about public art. It just takes a long time, because you are designing when the structure doesn’t even exist. You are working off other people’s plans, and sometimes plans change. Budgets can change. Structurally it can change. I have never worked on a project where the turnaround is less than2 years. Most of them turn around at 4.
Can you discuss your experience at McColl Center for Visual Art?
I think it’s been really wonderful for me to be down here. I’ve done another project in Charlotte, for the Arts and Science Council. We installed it in 2009; it was for the Youthful Offender Facility, so I have already felt very connected to Charlotte because of the previous project. Being down here with McColl Center for Visual Art has really allowed me to just be part of it.
Can you reveal any hopes for special projects in the future?
As I have worked more and more as an artist, I have come to the idea of an artist as a citizen. A citizen artist. That means an artist that would be useful to a community. Art that would be useful to a community. I think that as we get more involved in the 21st century its more and more important for us to not just be in a studio and to get out of that model of working, which is really ancient, almost Renaissance. It would be great to see artists visibly outside of their studios; visibly outside of these walls. I think there are a lot of opportunities to get work outside and I hope to do more projects outside and see more artists working in the community.