After five years with the Laramie Public Art Coalition, Meg Thompson is stepping down as director to pursue her own personal art and carpentry projects.
As the coalition begins the search for a new director, Thompson said she is proud to have helped to bring an artistic perspective “to the table” and added she is confident the coalition will be left in good hands.
While the Public Art Coalition does not select the art that appears on the murals or projects around town, it does help facilitate a way for project coordinators and artists to come together. Thompson said the part that excited her most was the “behind the scenes” work, getting the artist and construction team together to “creative group think” about incorporating art into building design.
“I feel like in this position I’ve been able to give the art community a seat at the table in decision-making in town, and I think that’s probably the thing I’m most proud of,” Thompson said. “I think that was not as formal before without LPAC.”
Laramie’s Public Art Plan and other art initiatives in the city have benefited artists beyond the “seat at the table.” Thompson said the coalition offers professional development and networking opportunities as well.
“We engage so many partners in town that I feel like it’s been effective to be able to educate the community about respecting artists as a profession, what it is to be an artist and valuing them in the big picture, not just as the final work that goes up,” Thompson said.
Different projects and artists Thompson said she’s been excited to work on over the years include the Sans Façon, a community storytelling event by artists Charles Blanc and Tristan Surtees, and the Free Wall, a wall downtown that allows anyone to paint on it without penalty. Thompson said both projects stood out to her because they both really “engaged a lot of different community members.”
The community has really embraced the public art initiative, said Trey Sherwood, executive director of the Laramie Main Street Alliance and vice chair for the Public Art Coalition.
“One of the major changes I see when we do public outreach or surveys, the demand and expectation for public art now is almost part of that cultural norm for Laramie,” Sherwood said. “So instead of us championing it, the community reflects it back to us.”
Stanton said the transition out of her role has been “bittersweet,” but she feels the Coalition is at a place where the new director will not be too overwhelmed by the new position. She added she will continue to support the arts in Laramie in the future while returning to her artistic and carpentry roots, saying she is excited to work with her hands again.
The Coalition’s board of directors is pushing forward with more projects and hopes to hire a new director as soon as possible to keep their momentum, Sherwood said.
“The board’s job is to be stewards of the plan and the resources, and we absolutely want to honor the work that Meg has done in laying such a strong foundation for us,” Sherwood said. “We’re going through board training to really hone in on roles, responsibilities and what’s next.”