Phillip K. Smith IIIHow public art can create community and prompt personal reflection.

Phillip K. Smith IIIHow public art can create community and prompt personal reflection.

“We should certainly celebrate our differences, but it’s more powerful to celebrate what we have in common.”

Phillip K. Smith III thinks he’s doing a good job. He believes humans desire love, connection and beauty; if his art can take care of two out of the three—beauty and community—then he is satisfied. An artist whose primary medium is light, Smith installs lonesome installations within the desolate landscapes surrounding his native Palm Springs, often using mirrors to reflect the Californian sun as it bathes the red and yellow rock in sunlight and shadow. Here, in collaboration with COS, Smith discusses his most recent commission, Open Sky, which transplanted his approach into the fray of Milan’s Salone del Mobile. In this piece, his mirror structure draws the Italian sky down into the courtyard of a 16th-century palazzo.

In what ways can public art foster a sense of community?
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