Amina Cooper

portrait of Amina Cooper

Announcing the Inaugural Change Lab Research Fellow, focusing on Racial Justice in Public Art: Amina Cooper

Supporting the efforts around dismantling harmful systems is built into the way we work, and we are acting to address collective trauma and reckon with systemic racism and inequities in the public art field. Our new Change Lab Research Fellowships aim to produce new research and policy suggestions to advance justice, health and human dignity in the field of public art in the United States. We are thrilled to announce our incredible first fellow, focusing on racial justice in public art: Amina Cooper, Public Art Program Director at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) in Charlotte, North Carolina. A public art administrator experienced in collection management, cultural equity and the arts, and more, we are excited to see Amina start working in this role, and look forward to together developing a national public art policy platform that is rooted in justice, health and human dignity for Black, Brown, and Indigenous people.

About Amina Cooper

Amina’s work in public art is centered around policy development and public art planning with a special emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion. In her current role as Public Art Director – CLT Airport, Amina is responsible for coordinating and managing public art project management at CLT on behalf of the Arts & Science Council (ASC).  Amina works with multiple stakeholders to coordinate design, construction, and installation of public art at CLT, ranked among the top 10 busiest airports in the world. She previously served as a curator and public arts manager, managing public art policy development and collection management efforts on behalf of Montgomery County, Maryland.  She has earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Howard University and a Master of Science degree in Arts Administration from Boston University.

It is time to talk about the lack of diversity within our public art commissions, artist selection panels, and our public art workforce. We need to address the elitism with which we dictate to communities which artworks are acceptable, and which persons and cultures are worth affirming with monuments and beautiful objects.

— Amina Cooper, quoted in “How Public Art Programs Can Join the Movement Against Police Brutality, White Supremacy, and Anti-Black Racism

Visit @BlackMonuments, the project Amina launched on Instagram that visually surveys public artworks created by Black artists, in response to those who want to engage Black artists but do not know where to find them.

Amina Cooper will begin her work as the Racial Justice Research Fellow on May 3, 2021.

Change Lab Background

The time is long overdue to reckon with systemic racism and inequities in our country’s public art policies, practices, and collections and address our collective trauma. We know from four decades as a leader in the public art field that cultural appropriation, art-washing, public art deserts, unethical community engagement practices, and systemic funding and policy barriers keep BIPOC artists and communities from fair, just and equitable representation in our country’s public art.

We also know that there are currently over 700 public art programs in the United States that have policies and funding to continue creating public art. Many of these programs and policies were instituted in the 1960’s and 70’s, and are tied to infrastructure projects and budgets. This system emphasizes permanent, object based projects, discounting public artworks that are temporary, ephemeral, and performance based.

We launched the Change Lab to place a critical eye on public art policies, funding, and processes across the country to understand their connection to and ability to challenge the most pressing issues of our time – racism as a public health crisis, indigenous invisibility, rural isolation, welcoming and belonging, collective trauma, and more.

We’ll engage Research Fellows to catalyze new thinking, test new approaches, and creatively disrupt the status quo to advance justice in the field of public art. Change Lab National Research Fellows will go deep into an area of critical importance, and utilize the findings to create public art demonstration projects that can be put into action across the country, acting as a model of change for public art programs, policies, and processes.

Our goal is to collaborate with communities to create new ways of working within the field of public art and allied fields through cross-sector partnerships, on the ground research, and deep community engagement to address inequities in all facets of public art. Through the Change Lab, we will collectively develop a national public art policy platform that is rooted in justice, health and human dignity for black, brown, and indigenous people.

a graphic of three colorful arrows includes the words "disrupt the status quo"

About the Fellowship

The Change Lab National Research Fellowships aim to produce new research, data, reporting, and suggestions to advance justice, health, and human dignity in the field of public art in the United States. Each Fellowship is based around a specific research topic, and is open to graduate students, recent college graduates, doctoral and post-doctoral researchers, artists, and public art professionals.] Fellowships are 3-month long, funded positions. A $5000 stipend will be made to each Fellow in two payments – once upon contract and once upon final delivery of and acceptance of your report. Fellows will be thought partners informing Forecast’s work conducting research and providing recommendations that will inform public art policies and practices in the United States and Native Nations that share the same geography. Fellows will work from their home base and can be located anywhere. A working knowledge of public art and some experience with research in the designated topic area will be important. Research Fellows will have access to Forecast staff and our published resources. The application for our inaugural Research Fellowship focused on Racial Justice in Public Art closed on March 1, 2021.

Fellows will be required to:

Commit to 200 hours over a 3 month period from their home base conducting in-depth research, analysis, and synthesis, and making suggestions on public art policies, programs, and practices as related to the research topic.

Research can take many forms, including interviews, focus groups, listening sessions, and formal surveys, to name a few

Attend regular virtual meetings with the Director of Programming [and other members of the organization as needed]

Complete administrative tasks relating to the selected research topic

Submit a print-ready report on research findings and recommendations 12 weeks after contract initiation [an example will be provided]

Agree that research will be published, fully accredited by Forecast

Share research and findings to a wide audience of constituents