Glossary of Art and Cultural Terms

Accession—the formal process used to accept and record an artwork as a public asset.

Acquisition—the transfer of title of valuable property including artwork by purchase, donation, bequest, transfer, or exchange.

Artist—an individual generally recognized by critics and peers as a professional practitioner of the visual, performing, or language arts, or a combination thereof, as judged by the quality of that professional practitioner’s body of work, educational background, experience, past commissions, exhibition/performance record, publications, and production of artworks.

Arts Professional—an individual having outstanding knowledge in the visual arts field, including, but not limited to, art historians, curators, arts administrators, critics, artists, or design professional such as an architect or landscape architect.

Artwork must be specified or designed by an artist and includes:

•      Sculpture: may be made of any material or combination of materials; may be free standing, wall-supported, suspended,mounted, installed, kinetic, electronic or mechanical.

•      Murals or paintings: may be made of any material or combination of materials; may be made with traditional or non-traditional means.

•     Earthworks, neon, glass, organic materials (ie: fiber, clay, wood, etc.), mosaics, photographs, prints, linguistic expressions,calligraphy, ephemera, textiles, found objects, and any media or combination of media, including audio, video, film, holographic or computer generated technologies, or other art genres currently known or which may come to be known.

•     Tangible manifestations (ie: CDs, DVDs, scripts,photographs, videos, films, scores, etc.) of choreography, theatrical performances, performance art, happenings, music, television and film or other performing or language art genres currently known or which may come to be known.

•      Artworks may be permanent,temporary, fixed, or portable, may be an integral part of a building, facility,or structure, and may be integrated with the work of other design professionals. The following, unless specified or designed by an artist, are not considered artworks: Reproductions,by mechanical or other means, of original artworks. However, limited editions controlled by the artist or original prints, cast sculpture, or photographs,may be considered artworks.

•      Decorative, ornamental or functional elements that are not specified or designed by an artist.

•      Elements generally considered as being components of architecture or landscape design such as vegetative materials, pools, paths, benches, receptacles, fixtures, planters, etc.

•      Art objects that are mass-produced,ordered from a catalog, or of standard design (such as benches or fountains);way finding or other functional elements such as graphics, signage, advertising or maps.

Call for Artist—electronic and/or printed information that defines a project and asks artists to respond with a statement of interest or qualifications.

Capital Improvements Program Project—any permanent public improvement project paid for wholly by monies appropriated by a jurisdiction to construct, improve, or renovate a building, including its appurtenant facilities, a decorative or commemorative structure, a park, a sidewalk, a parking facility, a utility.

Command of Medium—a demonstrated expertise with specific material(s).

Composition—the combining of parts to create a unique whole.

Construction Credits—the transfer of construction costs to public artworks that are designed to replace specific building components (ie: flooring, roofing, seating, etc)

Contextually Appropriate—artwork that is relevant and sensitive to its placement, site, or organizational theme.

Contract—a written, legal document specifying terms and conditions between or among parties with mutual interest.

Creative Communities are geographic locations where quality of life is directly connected to higher concentrations of creative workers and creative industries. Creative communities understand and value their cultural assets, and support diversity and innovation. These communities are a powerful draw to tourists, but also contribute to the economic stability of the community or region.

Creative Clusters area group of creative workers, industries, innovative organizations and professional entities, generally clustered around a neighborhood or within a creative/arts/cultural district. Arts organizations, research and development companies, and high technology industries are examples of creative clusters,also considered ‘creative enterprises’.

Creative Workforce is a group of individual workers who may be employed within the creative cluster of industries, in an industry outside the creative cluster, or self-employed. Usually, the creative workforce consists of individuals whose jobs require a high level of skill in cultural, fine or applied arts, design, new technology, and enterprise. They teach, create, generate technical innovation, drive design, and cultivate change. They include software developers, curators, actors, dancers, designers, directors, archivists,musicians, authors, engineers, architects, craftspeople, sculptors, painters,photographers, announcers, and filmmakers.

Cultural Use—open and accessible programming for the presentation of visual, performing and/or language arts.

Deaccession—the formal process used to permanently remove an artwork from the public art collection, usually through sale or exchange or any other transaction by which title of the outgoing artwork is transferred to an individual, institution, agency, gallery, vendor or dealer.

Deed of Gift—a formal, legal agreement that transfers ownership of and legal rights in the property to be donated.

Donation—a charitable contribution during lifetime or testamentary transfer, whether whole or fractional interest, including, but not limited to, cash and cash equivalents, real property,personal tangible property, publicly traded equity and debt securities, closely held securities, restricted securities, life insurance policies, intellectual property, artifacts and/or artworks.

Design—response to a site or idea as defined programmatically.

Design Competition—when two or more artists prepare formal responses to a design problem. Competitions are usually compensated (fee and expenses) and may provide the client with an understanding of the artist’s thoughts and skills.

Disposal—a term related to deaccession and  means the permanent exchange, sale, destruction or loss of an artwork in the Public Art Collection.

Extraordinary Artwork Maintenance—any non-routine repair, restoration or conservation to the sound condition of artworks that requires specialized services.

Fixed Artworks—artworks that cannot be easily transported or require a permanent or nearly permanent site, such as integrated artworks and large scale artworks.

Form/Formal Response—the application of artistic and/or design elements and principles, used to convey meaning in an artwork.

Innovative Design—a work that exemplifies a new method or synthesis.

Integration—the organization of various materials or ideas to create a whole.

Interpretation—a personal conception or expression of a work of art.

Materials—what something is made of; its constituent parts.

Memorial—a monument to preserve the memory of a person or an event. A memorial can be an artifact.

Methodology—the logic or order used to make a hypothesis or reach a conclusion.

Open and Accessible—available for use by the general public during normal hours of business operation consistent with the operation and use of the premises.

Ordinary Artwork Maintenance—any routine cleaning of artworks undertaken on a regular basis.

Permanent Artwork—artworks exhibited with expectation of indefinite duration.

Placemaking--the idea that any great place needs to offer at least 10 things to do or 10reasons to be there. These could include a place to sit, playgrounds to enjoy,art to touch, music to hear, food to eat, history to experience, and people to meet. Ideally, some of these activities are unique to that particular spot and are interesting enough to keep people coming back.  

Portable Artwork—artwork that can be easily transported or does not require a permanent or nearly permanent site. Paintings, works on paper, photographs and small sculptures are examples of portable artworks.

Prime Consultant—the firm, usually architecture,landscape architecture, or engineering, that is responsible for the design of the overall project.

Process—the operational steps to make something.

Public Art—artworks that are located in public places and/or created using public funds. Usually all forms of visual art conceived in any medium, material or combination thereof, which are placed in areas accessible or visible to the public. Works may be permanent,temporary, or functional. Public art does not include any architectural or landscape design, except when commissioned and designed by an artist.

Public Art Program—all responsibilities and activities of the Commission in accordance with (cite Resolution Number and Ordinance Date once adopted).

Public Places— publicly owned land and buildings.

Request for Proposal (RFP)—a process in which artists are asked to submit a detailed proposal for a specific site or project.

Request for Qualification (RFQ)—a process in which artists are asked to submit slides and/or examples of their previous work and professional history.

Style—a manner or mode of expression distinct from the ideas expressed and descriptive of construction, design and execution.

Temporary Artwork—artworks exhibited for a limited duration.

Glossary Source Credit: Special thanks to the Town of Wake Forest, NC, Public Art Vision Plan.