Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art & Art History

First Advisor

Kira van Lil

Second Advisor

Marilyn Brown

Third Advisor

J.P. Park


New forms of identity have emerged in the twenty-first century in response to globalization, and community formation has transformed alongside of this phenomenon. New technologies paired with voluntary and involuntary mass migrations have created the opportunity for people to define themselves in new, multi-dimensional, and dynamic ways, no longer solely based on the confines of the nation-state. While continuing to battle the global political, social, and economic structure set in place by the colonial past, post-colonial thinkers have added a new dimension to their scholarship by theorizing how the increased movement of people and information has created a shift in both identity politics and in the area of center and periphery studies. While many scholars have focused their attention on how this shift in identity politics has impacted topics in contemporary art, few art historians have addressed how this shift has transformed the meaning, purpose, content, and effects of public art. This thesis will address this void in scholarship by examining the diverse impact of the changing meaning of identity on contemporary public art using multiple case studies of community-building public art projects commissioned internationally. Looking specifically to public projects that instigate dialogue via technology, the land, and the confrontation of public space, I contend that public artists working today are able to counteract the detrimental forces of globalization by embracing the potential benefits of this phenomenon.