Conversations in clay: Engaging community through a socially engaged public art project


  • Kira Hegeman University of Georgia


Creative Placemaking, Public Art, Socially Engaged Art, Conversation, Community, Clay, Participation


Throughout the course of a given day individuals may weave in and out of shared spaces, passing one another on the trails of a public park or across the stones of a city square, often anonymously, perhaps with a fleeting smile or nod.  Creative placemaking, the practice of creating venues that enable community members to express their relationships with one another as well as the physical environment (Webb, 2014), offers a chance to re-envision the community-building capacity of such public spaces. In this paper I describe the process of designing and facilitating a socially engaged public art project for Art on the Atlanta Beltline, a temporary, annual public art festival in Atlanta, Georgia. Conceived as both an art installation and a site for informal art education, this project illustrates the potential for art making in public spaces to invite conversation and encourage empathic interaction between diverse community members.  

Author Biography

Kira Hegeman, University of Georgia

Kira Hegeman is currently pursuing a PhD in Art Education at the University of Georgia, with a focus on arts-based research, informal sites of learning and socially engaged art. Kira’s interest in community and public art grew from her position as Art Director for Art Relief International, a Thailand based organization devoted to empowerment and community building through the arts. Continually inspired by the power of creative expression to promote communication, confidence, and group cohesion, Kira’s research interests include the role of interactivity, public space, and collaborative art making in fostering conversation across diverse social lines. Kira works as both an artist and educator, striving to create visual works that invite participants to collaborate in the art making process through storytelling, public workshops, or interactive elements.

Authors’ Twitter Handles: @kirahegeman; @monstermenageri

 Twitter Handles to share article with: @AtlantaBeltLine, @ExperienceUGArt, @PublicArtReview


Art on the Atlanta Beltline. (2015, September 23). Retrieved from

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Special Call - Creative Placemaking - 2016