Sculpture for Culture

Stephanie Sullivan

The other day I was showing some images of sculptures by various people to Stephanie Sullivan and she expressed her surprise that there isn’t more public sculpture in the U.S. as there is in Europe and other parts of the world. She is a nineteen-year old who has the right idea. I asked her to write her feelings on this and so, she has:

American towns and cities would do well to have more public outdoor sculptures and artistic expression. For one thing, the way a culture expresses itself affects its people, and the same is true in reverse. This is to say that the more sculpture is available to the public eye, the more people will have the opportunity to appreciate art and perhaps enhance and value their own creative life. In a country where millions are caught in an eternal rat race for money and security, people could vastly benefit from a more intuitive outlet.

In America, cities and towns are primarily bereft of art and sculpture. A simple Google search for images of Italy and another for images of Boston shows just how lacking America is in sculpture. Sure, we have skyscrapers and occasional artistic expression, but one walking through Boston would hardly feel inspired. While some famous American cities are quite artistic, such as Chicago, they are not the majority. In most suburban towns, there is the same issue. What does this reflect about American culture? Is this a country that embraces and celebrates art? One could argue both ways, but that does not make cities like Boston any less dreary in the winter. If towns and cities were to be enhanced and adorned with sculpture and beautiful architecture, it would send a message that art is appreciated and celebrated by our culture and encourage artistic expression, and simply make them more beautiful.

Most people I know have their creative lives on the back burner. They are stuck fretting about their lives trying to be productive and financially stable. And it’s no wonder! These are modern times, and if you don’t wedge your way out of the system somehow, you’re in it, and you need to support yourself. However, in the midst of this inner and outer turmoil, is it not possible to indulge oneself in the awe of sculpture? If sculpture were to be more fully integrated into towns and cities, it could potentially help create an entire new tone for the country – one that invites people to enjoy their life and their creativity despite financial (or otherwise) worries. Furthermore, people would be existing in an America that makes creativity a priority instead of a luxury. My point is that if there are more sculptures, more inspiring architecture, creating a message of positive creativity, it will send a message to people that their own creative lives are valuable and important to society. From there, perhaps people will make their own creative lives a priority, and there you have it – a richer America.

Art speaks to the higher levels of who a person is. Art is emotional and even spiritual; it transcends monotonous daily life and is, therefore, worth striving for. While it might be more practical to skip cultivating this beautiful, glorious side of humanity, I do not see how practicality in itself is useful! Are people really satisfied with only a job that pays the bills and gray metal skyscrapers? With a combination of creativity and practicality, I hope to see a movement devised and carried out to fully integrate art and sculpture in American culture, in its towns and cities. Despite all the stress and tragedy and reasons not to, I believe that increasing the presence of art and sculpture will only help America appreciate our country and enjoy life.

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