UTSA College of Architecture participatory exhibit unites ideas of 'city'

College of Architecture exhibit
College of Architecture exhibit
College of Architecture exhibit

UTSA College of Architecture The [*] Project exhibit

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(March 15, 2013) --Everything is "City." It is stories, moments, colors and images engraved in our memories imagining a place between real and ideal. However, complexity distorts perspectives of place, and we beg for clarification. The [*] Project exhibition is a research effort by Assistant Professor Antonio Petrov and his students in the UTSA College of Architecture. It is an active investigation of San Antonio's cultural fabric, undertaken to reach a cohesive understanding of the city and its neighborhoods.

San Antonio art enthusiasts were buzzing on the evening of March 5 when The [*] Project officially opened to the public at the Public Art San Antonio (PASA) Studio. Running through March 31, The [*] Project is a creative, place-making experience, both emotional and evocative, where citizens can participate in the reclamation of the city as a cultural entity. The public brought real memories, stories and perspectives as they contributed to the idealization of a recovered San Antonio.

The [*] Project presents an investigation by UTSA architecture students of San Antonio's cultural fabric. Funded by a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town grant, the community engagement project invites the public to map their memories and experiences in San Antonio through participation in the UTSA student exhibition. With hopes for every individual to freely express their own idea of place, the opening event provided a variety of platforms to experiment, explore and develop new perspectives on the experience of San Antonio as a larger cultural entity.

The exhibit is divided into three sections where people can contribute to the place-making initiative. Attendees can view footage of the students' research, design and construction processes in the "Cloud of Ideas." Copies of the students' sketchbooks arranged in an illusory cloud hover over monitors looping films and images of the schematic planning.

Two maps of San Antonio reflect the city in condensed and expanded context to foster new perceptions of place. The first map expands the city onto the floor with bright orange abstractions of the city's 278 neighborhoods. In order to reveal space for broadened perspectives, people can walk through The Experience Map and use a sculpture of mirrors to clarify the map's inverted neighborhood titles.

Adjacent to a wall of San Antonio images, participants can contribute their memories to a second, condensed map of the city that outlines 17 cultural arteries. These arteries are concentrations of cultural activity along major roads or corridors. The Memory Map challenges viewers to write or draw their memories, and consequently, the wall is covered with sketches, words, ideas and stories of people's childhood homes, favorite parks, first workplaces or the coffee shop around the corner.

In preparation for viewing the exhibit, visitors should reflect on their ideas of place and think about areas of the city that generate these personal perceptions of place. Experiment with emotionally mapping the places of your community. Bring these reflections to the exhibition, and put your renewed perspective into action by sketching your memories, describing your stories and mapping your neighborhoods that make your place. The goal of the exhibit is to unify the ideas of San Antonio's true identity.

The [*] Project is part of the Public Space, Public Transit, Public Art series, a project funded by a grant from the NEA. In summer 2012, the UTSA College of Architecture, in partnership with the City of San Antonio Department for Culture and Creative Development and VIA Metropolitan Transit, was selected to receive an Our Town grant from the NEA.

>> The [*] Project exhibition is free and open to the public. The exhibition is at the PASA Studio, 400 N. St. Mary's St. Gallery hours are 8 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m., Monday-Friday.

For more information about the events in the Public Space, Public Transit, Public Art series, contact Nicole Chavez at 210-458-3121.