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About the Call for Public Art

Call for Public Art

Understanding Our Complicated Past and Reconnecting with Our Layered Histories: An International Ideas Competition

Competition Description

Virginia Tech will recognize its 150th anniversary in 2022. To celebrate the sesquicentennial, the Council on Virginia Tech History’s Public Art Committee developed an international ideas competition seeking creative approaches highlighting the ways historically marginalized communities have shaped and continue to shape the university. The proposals yielded from the competition were considered for commissioning on Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus.

The Council on Virginia Tech History's work does not shy away from the difficult and painful histories that are embedded into the fabric of our university; rather, it examines the histories of Native people whose land and knowledge were dispossessed, and enslaved people whose labor and contributions to other people’s wealth proved foundational to the university, people whose contributions are not acknowledged in the dominant discourse of Virginia Tech’s history. Centering these stories as foundational to the institution provides an understanding of the ways in which disenfranchisement has shaped the knowledge of, and emanating from, the university.

The Council on Virginia Tech History’s Public Art Committee welcomed submissions of all types of public artworks to its ideas competition, not limited to physical artworks, that advance the Council’s efforts.

Competition Process

This public art competition took place in two phases.

Phase One: Artists submitted a proposal that included a letter of interest, diversity statement, resume/CV, and representative documentation of original work (no more than six images) that responded to the competition call, and a project proposal including a preliminary cost projection.

Phase Two: The competition Selection Committee identified a shortlist of semifinalists, who were invited to refine and present their project proposal and cost projections. Each semifinalist or semifinalist team received an honorarium of $1,500. Final selection(s) were made from the semifinalists’ proposals. Total prize money, $20,000, was split among the winners. The finalists will be provided a $200 stipend to produce a more detailed materials cost estimate.

Finalist Selection: Finalists were identified by a selection committee of members from the Virginia Tech community. The Selection Committee elevated four finalists. 

Public Art Location

Submission Requirements


The ideas competition was open to artists aged 18 and older, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender identification, military status, sexual orientation, marital status, or physical ability. Women, minoritized identities, and Native-identifying persons were strongly encouraged to apply.

The Council on Virginia Tech History's Public Art Committee strongly encouraged proposals from diverse teams who could explain why this project spoke to them. International submissions were welcome, as were student submissions. While diverse teams were encouraged, individuals were also able to register and submit.

Selection Criteria

The Selection Committee considered the following:

The development and design for the artwork:

  • Considered the elements of the site as a source of design ideas
  • Considered the area surrounding the artwork and its intended uses as described in the call
  • Reflected the university's/community's history, diversity, and cultural profile
  • Demonstrated the intersecting relationship and influences from the white, Black, and Native American presence
  • Contributed to the aesthetic beauty of the area, including elements of the Duck Pond, buildings, and landscape
  • Was durable, stable, and suitable for the climate conditions, resistant to UV damage, and safe for public interaction
  • Could be accomplished within the proposer’s preliminary cost projection