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Amplify Public Art Competition Winners Now On Display


Neilson gallery wall, ground floor

Neilson gallery wall, ground floor

Published March 26, 2024

On display through May 2024

The ground-floor gallery wall in Neilson Library now features the winners of the 2023-2024 Amplify Public Art Competition, sponsored by the Wurtele Center for Leadership. The Amplify Competition is an opportunity for Smith College students to share their knowledge, stories, and perspectives in a public forum and raise their voices to bring about positive change in the categories of public writing, public speaking, multimedia, and public art.

Smith Office for the Arts (SOFA) and the Libraries partnered to issue a call for proposals for public art projects in response to the exhibition Radical Visions: The Art of Protest Posters, featured on the gallery wall this past fall. Radical Visions showcased a diverse set of protest posters selected from Special Collections, which represented a variety of social, political, and cultural issues.

The winning Amplify Public Art submissions from Smith students Ava Harper (’24J) and C Willison (’24) draw on aesthetic strategies the artists observed in the selection of Radical Visions protest posters, such as bold use of color and clear, concise, and accessible language. Harper and Willison have taken that inspiration a step further with these projects, adding tangible and experiential elements that further serve to convey the message of their work.

Ava Harper (’24J)

Harper’s project, “SUPPORT SAFE CONSUMPTION SITES,” was designed to raise awareness and support for a solution of the prevention of opioid overdose deaths. With a brief blurb outlining the start of the opioid epidemic initiated by Purdue's release of Oxycontin in 1996, the poster introduces the idea of safe consumption sites and their functions as a tool to combat this crisis. 

Ava Harper (’24J) artwork

C Willison (’24)

Willison’s project, “We Will Not Be Quiet! Stonewall Was A Riot! (A Call and Response)” pays homage to trans activist-artists that have been pioneers in trans visibility, specifically musicians. Willison heard the “We will not be quiet! Stonewall was a riot!” protest chant at the age of 15 at a Pride parade, and its message sparked an interest in the power of chants, songs, and sound in uniting people and building community. Willison’s project uses a multimedia approach, inviting viewers to look at different flags while listening to music by transgender artists Willison has selected to correspond to each flag.

The projects will be on display through May 2024.


Leigh Fagin, Jean and David W. Wallace Foundation Director of the Office for the Arts: 

C Willison artwork