Public Arts: Writing and Visual Arts in the Service of Community

Winter 2022
Spring 2022
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 50
16 Credits per quarter
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This program incorporates Greener Foundations. Greener Foundations is Evergreen’s 2-quarter introductory student success course, which provides all first-year students with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive at Evergreen. First year students will get 14-credits from this program, and 2-credits from a Greener Foundations course. 

A mural that commemorates a Latinx neighborhood in the US; graffiti in Latin American cities; photographs of the disappeared, hung in a church in Colombia; a book of poems that documents the impact of industrial neglect on primarily African-American workers in Virginia; National Poetry slam raising voices from marginalized communities -- these are all examples of art forms that engage with the public in order to tell stories that have been erased or ignored. In this program we will explore how the arts can define “the public” and intervene in it through direct engagement with impacted communities. We will explore questions such as: what is public space? What is the practice of public art and how does it change the traditional relationships between maker and viewer/ reader/ listener? What is the role of art in establishing public memory and bringing issues to the public eye? What is considered public and what is not, and how do the arts shift this balance? How did artists respond to shifting notions of the public after the 2020 pandemic and struggles for racial justice? How do artists work with communities and establish forms of accountability to them? How do public artists tell the stories of a community and honor those stories through their practice?

We will explore these questions through both theory and practice. We will read about and analyze the work of writers and visual artists engaging “the public” in Latin America and the United States, primarily coming from or working with low-income communities and communities of color. Throughout both quarters, students will deepen and expand skills in literary and visual analysis by looking at the work of writers like Cecilia Vicuña, Sara Uribe, Muriel Rukeyser, and Robin Coste Lewis, and contemporary public artists, visual artists, photographers, and filmmakers like Erika Diettes and Patricia Vázquez Gómez. We will explore public art histories, including Mexican murals, the Chicago Black Arts movement, the collaborations that produced the Great Wall of Los Angeles, and the spoken word poetry movement. Students will engage in community art, storytelling, or poetry projects locally, through collaborations with community organizations, reflect on their own developing arts practice, and expand their artistic and writing tool kits. In the winter, students will have the opportunity to develop skills in documentary video while engaging in creative writing projects. In the spring, we will deepen our work in public storytelling/video/creative writing projects, particularly poetry (page) and spoken word (stage), and will include an 8-credit module that will support individual and/or collective public projects.


Winter 2022 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

Sr (16): 20072
Jr (16): 20073
So (16): 20074
Fr (14): 20075
Spring 2022 Registration

Academic details

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$150 each quarter for overnight field trips


In Person or Remote
In Person (W)
In Person (S)
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule