Heather Campbell

Heather Campbell

Calgary Arts Development's Manager of Public Art sheds some light on how the program works

The ability of public art to bring joy, make connections and offer new perspectives is a key measure of success for Heather Campbell. A facilitator of public art projects, an Alberta University of the Arts graduate with a degree in fine arts, an artist in her own right and, more recently, public art manager for Calgary Arts Development, Campbell sees public art as having many functions.

“It can it beautify a space. It can create a place that’s safe to go to. You can change the way people connect with the space,” she says. “I think that it can tell stories about past histories in that space…. It can create an emotional connection to the viewer, like so they can talk about some, like a little-known fact about the space that can make someone feel connected to… where they live.”

Campbell also speaks to the value of public art as a way to bring beauty into a space, which can actually improve someone’s life. “It just brings joy, which I think is so essential to life. I guess that’s part of what I think is so important about public art is art in general is that it’s just getting you away from the grind and… those things are great — life, family, work, all of those things are good, but (public art) just brings happiness and joy and surprise. You know, it’s not predictable and it’s, yeah, joy.”

Campbell also delves into the process behind the selections for public artworks, which is a bit more complex than one might expect and has a lot of thought put into it. That effort includes thinking about how to support artists who have been facing barriers or who just haven’t been able to get a first commission.

“We’re always trying to change things to help support artists that maybe have less experience, that, you know, this will help their career, like this could provide some momentum for them to get going. We try to bring that in,” she says.

Tune into this week’s Storytelling Podcast to hear more from Heather Campbell about what’s in store for the public art team in 2024.

About The Storytelling Podcast

Sharing diverse stories of creativity in our city, The Storytelling Podcast shines a spotlight on artists and projects that connect Calgarians to the arts. Part of The Storytelling Project, this series raises awareness about Calgarians who, by living creative lives, are making Calgary a better city, affecting positive change and enriching others’ lives.

Have a story to share? Email us at submissions@calgaryartsdevelopment.com.

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