Frances Whitehead is a civic practice artist bringing the methods, mindsets, and strategies of contemporary art practice to the process of shaping the future city. Connecting emerging art practices, the discourses around culturally informed sustainability, and new concepts of heritage and remediation, she develops strategies to deploy the knowledge of artists as change agents.
Questions of participation, sustainability, and culture change animate her work as she considers the surrounding community, the landscape, and the interdependency of multiple ecologies in the post-industrial city. Whitehead’s work integrates art and sustainability, as she traverses disciplines to engage with engineers, scientists, landscape architects, urban designers, and city officials in order to hybridize art, design, science, and civic engagement, for the public good.
In 2014 Frances Whitehead was invited by The University of Rhode Island (URI) to join them in a collaborative project as a Distinguished Visiting Artist. The initial phase of this collaboration was a week-long residency at the university for research and relationship-building. The centerpiece of this week of kickoff work was an in-depth public talk on the integration of art and sustainability.
To promote the talk and, more significantly, to raise awareness in the local community of the role and value of having a Distinguished Visiting Artist, URI launched a public relations campaign that included media interviews, public events and social strategies, all of which were wrapped in a consistent suite of branded promotional graphics. A minimal ‘seal’ was developed for the program and used as an imprimatur on the full range of visual packaging. As a whole, the system effectively elevated both the position and visibility of The University of Rhode Island’s Distinguished Visiting Artist.