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Call for Public Art

Call for Public Art

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

Periodic updates will be available throughout the Call For Public Art on this webpage

  Take Note: The deadline for proposal submissions to the Call for Public Art has been extended to September 30, 2020.

Competition Description

Virginia Tech will recognize its 150th anniversary in 2022. The Council on Virginia Tech History’s Public Art Committee is working on creative approaches to highlight the ways in which historically marginalized communities have shaped and continue to shape the university.

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 welcomes submissions of all types of public artworks, not limited to physical artworks, that advance the Council’s efforts.

Competition Process

This public art competition will take place in two phases.

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

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

Finalist Selection: Finalists will be selected by a Selection Committee of members from the Virginia Tech community. The Selection Committee will choose first, second, and third place submissions. 

Public Art Location

About the University

Submission Requirements


This competition is 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 are strongly encouraged to apply. Artist teams may apply and must designate one artist as the lead contact.

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

Registration Process

Registration opens May 4, 2020, and competition submissions are due September 30, 2020.

All participants must register to enter the competition. There is no registration fee for this competition.

All applications for this competition must be submitted through the Submission Portal. No hard copy nor emailed submissions will be accepted. There is no application fee to apply or to use the online application system. Assistance in using the system is available during regular business hours by email or phone at (540) 231-3703.

Registration and submission materials must include:

Letter of Interest: No more than 500 words that outlines artist's potential approach this project, potential materials of use, and how this project could relate to artist's current work.

Diversity Statement: No more than 500 words that illustrates artist's commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Resume/CV: Chronological resume demonstrating artist’s visual art experience. If submitting as a team, a current resume should be submitted for each team member (4 pages maximum per team member).

Examples of Previous Work: High Resolution JPEG images of the artwork proposed for public display (up to 6 images maximum; 1500 pixels in longest direction). Image details to include: artist name, piece title, dimensions.

Submission Proposal: The submission proposal must be collated in a single pdf document.

  • The submission proposal must include an artist’s statement regarding concept of the proposal (500 words maximum). 
  • No more than five images may be included in the submission proposal. At least one image must be scaled appropriately (maximum 24300 pixels X 2400 pixels), others can include proposed details and none should exceed 5 MB. 
  • The submission proposal must include a budget and estimated time necessary for completion.

Note: Applications must be submitted in the recommended format so they may be evaluated in an objective manner by the selection committee. Entries that do not meet submission requirements will not be considered.

Selection Criteria

The Selection Committee will consider the following:

The development and design for the artwork should:

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