The Rowan Public Art website, which documents the public art around Rowan University’s
three campuses, features 23 sculptures and 4 paintings, all of which were created by 17 different artists. Included on the site is an interactive map of campus featuring pin-dropped locations and descriptions of public art pieces at Rowan.
Mike Benson, coordinator of the Digital Scholarship Center (DSC) located inside of Campbell Library, said this public art website was a project he was always passionate about creating, even during the 16 years he worked at the Department of Art on campus.
“Public art is thought of as artwork that is made for a commission and is picked for a
specific spot,” Benson said. “It’s generally a sculpture, but could also be murals, sometimes you see monuments… Here on campus, we haven’t necessarily followed that model. We’re determining public art as anything that is in a public space and is publicly accessible.”
He explained that his hope was for this website is to be used as an educational background and to teach students about the art around them on campus, as well as to hopefully be integrated into class studies across multiple disciplines.
“We want to use [the website] as an educational resource and connect with professors who want to use the website and content within their coursework,” Benson said.
Public art on Rowan’s three different campuses includes paintings at Campbell Library and the Schools of Osteopathic Medicine in both Camden and Stratford and the campus monuments, memorials and murals.
Jocelyn Naarden, instructional designer at the DSC, explained that a large part of creating this project involved working directly with artists to get content and pictures of the artwork, as well as developing content and researching art.
Naarden also spoke to some of the challenges and pleasures of working on this project.
“We wanted to keep the website as balanced as possible in terms of content, so we had to dive deep into researching to find related material,” Naarden said. “We also had to test out quite a few platforms and plugins to get the features we wanted for the website. The coolest part of designing this website was actually learning more about the artists and their artwork. It is interesting when you interpret an artwork to have a specific meaning, [but] meanwhile the artist had a completely different reasoning behind the work.”
Benson listed all of the different campus departments who played a role in helping to develop the website, including University Planning and Operations, Rowan University Art Gallery, University Relations, Campbell Library and the DSC, University Publications, as well as student workers.
“This was a really and truly collaborative project,” Benson said.
He also explained that Jonathan Jiras, a technology services librarian, was extremely helpful with the project because he had previously created a similar website.
Rowan’s public art includes pieces from famous artists such as Ed Carpenter and William Butler.
While the team hopes that the website will be used for educational purposes and integrated into different coursework, they also hope it will make students more aware of the art they walk past every day on their way to class.
The Rowan public art website can be found at publicart.rowan.edu.
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