Public Art Commission
Katelyn Kirnie, Director
Kat Wright, Program Coordinator
Katelyn Kirnie has served as the Director of Public Art Chattanooga since August, 2016. She moved back to her hometown Chattanooga after living in Portland, OR and Boston, MA where she managed the public art program for the Rose Kennedy Greenway. She holds a Master’s Degree in Arts Administration from Boston University and has a background in project management with a specific expertise producing exhibitions, artworks and specialty elements in the public realm. Katelyn is inspired by the way public art enhances the urban environment -- adding meaning, building community and creating connection.
Kat Wright joined Public Art Chattanooga in October 2018 with extensive arts and social services experience. Upon relocating to Chattanooga, she earned a Master of Public Administration in Local Government Management where her capstone research focused on Public Art in Urban Renewal, and also served as Major Projects Manager for the Association for Visual Arts (AVA). While at AVA, she directed the 4 Bridges Arts Festival, a signature cultural event in the Southeast attracting artists and artisans throughout the country to participate through juried selection.
The Chattanooga Public Art Commission is established by City Code and authorized by Council Ordinance to oversee public art on City property. Public Art Commission members are appointed by the Mayor. For more information on terms and how to serve, visit the City's boards page.
Ellen Simak, Board Chair, Former Chief Curator, Hunter Museum of American Art
Vernisha Savoy, Vice Chair Senior Technical Advisor & Compliance Expert
John Brown, Senior Landscape Architect, Barge Design Solutions
Charlotte Caldwell, Director/Founder, Stove Works
John Henry, Visual Artist
Shaun LaRose, Fine Arts Director/Teacher, Chattanooga Christian School
Megan Ledbetter, Art Professor, Chattanooga State Community College
Justin McBath, Engineer / Project Manager, TVA
Ricardo "Ric" Morris, Special Events & Rental Manager, Chattanooga Theatre Centre / Founder & CEO, Festival of Black Arts & Ideas
Rachel Reese, Director & Curator, Cress Gallery of Art
Virginia Anne Sharber, Executive Director, Hunter Museum of American Art
Sara Tolbert, Visual Artist, ArtsBuild
Lindsey Willke, Urban Design Coordinator, Chattanooga Design Studio
Meetings are held at 2:00PM on the 3rd Thursday of every other month (February, April, June, August, October, December) in the City Council Conference Room at 1000 Lindsay St, Chattanooga, TN 37402.
** During the COVID-19 pandemic and while shelter in place orders are in effect, the Chattanooga Public Art Commission will hold its bi-monthly public meeting via Zoom video conference.**
2018 Meeting Minutes
2019 Meeting Minutes
2020 Meeting Minutes
2020 Virtual Recorded Meetings
Chattanooga values public art, employing it to help transform its downtown and neighborhoods, bring people together, and celebrate its spirit of creativity. Thanks to the leadership of several forward-thinking mayors, community leaders, and design professionals, Chattanooga has reinvented itself as one of the country’s most livable mid-sized cities.
Outdoor sculpture displays abound including the Bluff View Art District’s River Gallery Sculpture Garden, the Hunter Museum’s outdoor sculpture collection, Sculpture Fields, and the Chattanooga Sculpture Biennial, which attract visitors from around the world. Since the early 1990s, the City, in partnership with the private sector, has completed more than 100 permanent and temporary outdoor public art projects.
The development of the Tennessee Aquarium in 1992 included a remarkable integration of art and landscape by S.I.T.E. architects with artists Jack Mackie and Stan Townsend at Ross’s Landing. Chattanooga completed a public art plan in 2003 resulting in several key initiatives, with the 2005, 21st Century Waterfront project as the most prominent. Dedicating 1.2 million towards public art, the waterfront project included "Luminous Light Masts" by James Carpenter, "The Passage" by Team Gadugi, and the First Street Sculpture Garden. Since the completion of the waterfront project, public art has continued to play a critical role in revitalization efforts and in the creation of a distinct sense of place. Key projects include:
2005: “The Passage” by Team Gadugi, a living tribute to the resiliency and vibrancy of the Cherokee culture – and those of other tribes removed from this region during the Trail of Tears.
2005: “Luminous Light Masts” by James Carpenter, the iconic light masts on the Chattanooga Pier.
2005-2015: Biennial Sculpture Exhibition, a rotating sculpture program along First Street, Chattanooga Green and the waterfront.
2008-Present: Art in Neighborhoods program, engaging residents and providing access to art beyond downtown.
2009: "The Four Seasons" by Daud Akhriev, a series of four sculptures placed at the Market Street Bridge and First Street in partnership with River City Company.
2009-13: Art on Main sculpture program on East and West Main Streets.
2011: Art in Motion Project, downtown artist-designed bus wraps in partnership with River City Company
2011: "Main Terrain" by Thomas Sayre, the transformation of a 1.72 acre vacant lot into an active, distinctive urban art and fitness park funded through a creative placemaking grant from the National Endowment of the Arts.
2013: Temporary artist installations and permanent artist designed bus shelters and benches at Glass Street in partnership with Glass House Collective.
2019 Strategic Plan
The 2019 Public Art Strategic Plan responds to the different perspectives from Chattanoogans about what constitutes public art, its purpose, and the growing demand for public art to address specific community concerns. Chattanoogans strongly value and support public art, and they look to the City to provide equitable access and opportunity to experience it -- adding meaning, beauty, connection and dialogue to daily public life. Informed by this input, the plan prioritizes placemaking and community empowerment by integrating art and artists into the way the City builds itself through capital construction and neighborhood projects. Also, acknowledging the tremendous role public art has played in the transformation of Chattanooga, the plan establishes a clear tie to the city’s economic development initiatives.
Building on the rich history of Chattanooga’s public/private partnerships, the plan allows the City to assume a more prominent role in driving the vision for Chattanooga’s public art -- taking the lead in its planning and funding, while forging a balanced partnership with the private sector by leveraging City capital and operating budgets.
Finally, the plan offers a ten-year action plan with specific recommendations for how PAC can support multi-sector public art efforts while proactively taking the lead to integrate art into City-funded capital projects and neighborhood initiatives.
Public art helps define Chattanooga by enhancing the public realm, stimulating dialogue, and building community.
Chattanoogans believe that public art has the power to:
- Provide equitable access to a diversity of artists and artistic experiences.
- Celebrate our communities’ cultural assets, highlighting the unique character of our neighborhoods, honoring their histories, and preserving quality of place.
- Elevate the role the artist and the creative process plays in connecting people and place.
- Encourage multi-disciplinary collaboration in the public and private sectors to create vibrant public spaces.
- Express Chattanooga's identity through the built environment.
Public Art Chattanooga collaborates with many public, private, and non-profit partners to expand our work throughout the City.
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