For students, the University City Public Art Series (also known as the University City Sculpture Series) has become a rite of passage, a chance to explore the social aspects and civic responsibilities of being an artist. Since the project’s inception in the fall of 1986, more than 200 students, 17 professors, 4 deans, 2 chancellors, 60 commission members, and 2 mayors have collaborated on it. The series is the longest-running partnership of its type in the United States and has produced almost 200 temporary public works. Throughout the years, projects have represented any number of mediums, from traditional sculpture to highly interactive works forged through community participation.

Participants gain valuable hands-on experience proposing works of public art for temporary installation. They choose locations, estimate costs, and design models. They make professional presentations before the city’s Municipal Commission on Arts & Letters. Winning projects—funded by the city and the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis—are constructed, installed, and unveiled.

This partnership with Washington University has provided a breath of fresh air to the University City community each spring for 30 years.  Washington University sculpture students are encouraged by their professors to compete for the opportunity to design public art for temporary construction in University City.

Students develop proposals and models, make personal presentations to the Commission and submit a budget.  Selected students are responsible for constructing and removing their own work.  A reception for these students is held every year at Centennial Commons.  Occasionally, the Commission purchases an outstanding sculpture for permanent installation.

About the Arts & Letters Commission

The mission of the University City Municipal Commission on Arts & Letters is to act in an advisory capacity to the City Council on artistic, cultural and scholarly programs within University City.  The Commission is dedicated to promoting the arts and making art publicly visible and accessible to a broad and diverse community audience.

In addition to the University City Public Art Series, the Commission uses University City funds to support an annual photography competition, a returning artist program for our school children and community, a series of free outdoor summer concerts, and public lectures and presentations.

University City Sculpture Series Documentary from Dan Martin on Vimeo.