Howdle discusses benefits of public art courses

October 27, 2015
Platteville Over Time mural

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Bruce Howdle, art lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, will give a presentation on how public art courses help prepare students for careers and improve campus aesthetics at the 50th annual National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts conference being held March 16-19, 2016, in Kansas City, Mo.

The mission of NCECA is to foster global education and appreciation for the ceramic arts. The conference will explore the personal, social and aesthetic forces that animate creative work with elemental materials, methods and ideas in the midst of the information age.

Howdle will share his experiences with the Public Space and Public Art course he teaches at UW-Platteville, a studio art course focused on the study of contemporary art in public spaces with particular attention to the role of the artist in creating public art. Studio work for the course requires students to prepare a site-specific public art installation including drawing, photography, scaled model making and/or digital processes, culminating in the production of temporary or permanent site-specific work for installation on campus or in the community.

During his presentation, Howdle will discuss ways public art courses can help overcome declining financial support for the arts and enhance a student’s professional preparedness as well as the impact that public arts has on the aesthetics and culture of campus venues. He will also invite discussion about ways that college and university art faculty can integrate public art into university curricula – or enhance existing programs – taking into consideration aesthetic, social and practical matters.

“Public art has a long history as an important element in creating a distinctive sense of place for a given society – think of Rome’s Trajan Column, the Bamiyan Buddhas, or the Nasca Lines in Peru,” said Howdle. “Public art, when done well, contributes to a distinctive sense of place. Public art created by individual students, or teams of students, works to raise recognition of the arts both on and off campus and provides students with significant real-world accomplishments.”

Howdle said discussions at the conference will allow participants to gain a greater understanding of how a course in Public Art may contribute to students’ and communities’ appreciation of how art can enhance and celebrate culture – whether past, present or future.

Student artwork from the Public Space and Public Arts course has been so well received by UW-Platteville students, faculty and staff that it has been installed in many of the university’s buildings, including the library and several residence halls. “The course has given students the opportunity to create timeless works of art that enhance the beauty of university buildings,” Howdle said. “The pieces express the students’ individuality and bring beauty and meaning to public spaces. They also can be included in their art portfolios, which will help them obtain employment or acceptance into graduate or art school.”

To view some examples of student artwork installed in UW-Platteville buildings, go to: /news/autumn-leaves-enhances-library, /news/student-artwork-enhances-aesthetics-bridgeway-commons and /news/student-artwork-enhance-uw-platteville-bridgeway-commons.

The Public Space and Public Arts course will be offered at UW-Platteville this spring, giving students the opportunity to design and create their own works that, if approved, could be permanently installed on the university campus or at other sites not yet determined.

Howdle is an internationally recognized ceramic artist and owner of Howdle Studios Inc. in Mineral Point, Wis. In the past 38 years, he has produced and installed major works of freestanding or wall-mounted sculpture in both indoor and outdoor settings in several states.

Written by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, 608-342-6191,


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