Building Big Things Together!

DATE:  November 10, 2016     CATEGORIES:  Blog

By New American Public Art

A member of the Artisan’s Asylum from the beginning, New American Public Art has grown from tinkerers and hobbyists into a full-time, public art making business. The Asylum and its community are, in large part, to thank for our success.

Blue Hour

Blue Hour: Light City Baltimore 2015

We began our journey seeking three things: space, tools, and community. When the Artisan’s Asylum opened membership in the Ames building, we were the first in line.

Within a year at the Asylum we had set up shop and became very familiar with the power of this fully operational makerspace. The modern capabilities of the tools in the wood, metal, and electronic shops allowed us to weave responsivity and interactivity into our work. On-boarding another inmate to the NAPA team brought new technological and logistical possibilities. Running an intern program through our institutional membership brought in additional talent and our final co-founder. We kept bootstrapping ourselves into building bigger and more complex projects, which provided a competitive edge.

Your Big Face

The Face of Information (Your Big Face) being assembled in the social area of the Asylum

Each installation was evidence and inspiration that we could build even bigger next time. Each collaboration with a community or organization was evidence of professionalism in the field, and established a track record of successful partnerships.

We have found that the scale of the work and the depth of the partnership matter equally. Our original symbiosis with the Artisan’s Asylum is a great example: a good relationship with a client, team, or organization is essential to the scope, scale and success of the physical work.


Ourself. A responsive installation in Camden NJ. A collaboration between more parties than can be named here.

This is not new information. Everyone’s been telling you this your entire life. Why, then, does this keep coming up? Because the drive to be a lone wolf, Do It (all by) Yourself, and be the sole author is a strong narrative in America and in the world. The story of the genius mad scientist might be possible at a small scale, but we’ve found that if you want to build big, you have to sacrifice a bit of your ego, and work together. We named ourself New American Public Art because that’s what we wanted to see in the world. We believe it’s time to update the lone wolf myth, and make the new American ideal one that romanticizes teamwork instead.

To hear more about our trajectory as a business and our upcoming projects, join us for the next Artisan’s Asylum Speaker Series. We’ll be talking about giant public radios, resources for creativity, and open sourcing the public art process.

New American Public Art is a multi-disciplinary studio for conceptualizing, designing, fabricating, and installing interactive projects.