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What We Do
Friends of Community Public Art is a not for profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the creation, planning, promotion and preservation of public art to increase the awareness of a community’s rich historical and cultural heritage. FCPA was formed to be an artist run, multi-racial, inter-cultural organization that represents the economic diversity of the area. FCPA captures a community’s history and culture through site-specific, audience responsive art work.
FCPA specializes in murals, mosaics and sculpture and has done work for the City of Joliet, Century Walk of Naperville, Village of Bolingbrook, Brookfield Zoo, Naperville United Way, Will County Forest Preserve District, the Town of Merrillville, IN and more.
FCPA has set an example in the City of Joliet and can help other communities who also wish to distinguish themselves through visual art.
Joliet's first outdoor community public art dates back to 1975 when Kathleen Farrell (founder of FCPA), Valerie Richards and a crew from Women in Construction created the mural “Downtown is Our Town," located east of the municipal building facing Jefferson Street. Later, public art works included a major mural in Joliet’s then newly renovated Union Station in 1991 and a ceramic mosaic installed on the ground near the southwest corner of Bluff and Jefferson Streets in 1993, which highlights Joliet’s architecture and its characteristic lift bridges.
Between 1994 and 1997, using funding set aside for viaduct beautification, forty-two original works of art were created on walls around the downtown area.
During this time, a new spirit of civic pride in Joliet's public art was confirmed with the formation of Friends of Community Public Art (FCPA) in 1996 followed by its successful incorporation in 1998. Many of the artists already involved in the city's public art program organized to better promote the creation, preservation and promotion of community public art.
Summer of 1998 saw the expansion of the city's public art program to include projects located in four of the five Joliet City Council districts. The list of eligible media broadened to include mosaic and sculpture. In 1998, the first city-sponsored sculpture was installed at the entrance to the Rock Run Wetland Park.
As part of its mission, FCPA developed a plan to increase the awareness of Joliet's unique public art by incorporating plaques explaining the history and thought behind each piece. In 2000, the first sixteen plaques were installed adjacent to City Center murals.
FCPA’s community-outreach program fosters art education through its creation of books, posters, postcards and brochures that feature community public art murals, mosaics and sculptures with explanations of both aesthetics and narrative.
With major support from the City of Joliet, the Illinois State Legislature and the Illinois Humanities Council, FCPA published Murals: The Great Walls of Joliet in 2001, which tells the unique history behind the murals of Joliet.
In 2003, FCPA, in conjunction with The Field Museum of Chicago, designed Creating Art, Building Communities: Joliet and Friends of Community Public Art, which was on exhibit at the Field Museum until July 6, 2003, and then toured at the Joliet Area Historical Museum from July 18, 2003 through September 6, 2003.
Sculptures: The Great Columns of Joliet is FCPA’s second publication and couples its sculptures cast in bronze, limestone, fiberglass, and steel with poetry commissioned from Joliet and Chicago area poets specifically for each piece. The book was released in 2006.
Friends of Community Public Art membership includes artists, students, community leaders and supporters of public art.