Bridges often serve a role in art. As a focus of a song, as the subject of a painting, or as the piece of art itself in its engineering. Bridges can serve as a vehicle for art, utilizing the oft overlooked spaces that we pass over or through every day. They frame our views and direct our attention, intentionally or unintentionally creating a hierarchy of civic spaces.
The City Beautiful Movement believed that public art could uplift society, inspire civic pride and engagement. Using spaces that are often overlooked as ways to convey art can have a profound effect on society. With the way they focus attention of drivers, bridges can be used to communicate whimsy, to highlight the identity of an area, to serve as historic landmarks, to celebrate cultural character and tradition, or to call attention to important events or themes.
On Wednesday, the Empire State Building will be bathed in the magenta color of the HeForShe Campaign. The physical stature (and character) of that building helps communicate the importance of the campaign for gender equality. The bridges in our communities can play the same role, “inspiring social progress”, because of their significant stature.
It doesn’t have to been expensive or expansive, but let’s more purposefully use the space of our bridges to their full capability, and communicate something more meaningful to the community.