How We Look At Art

Our Mission

The main purpose of this site is help artists consider some of the persuasive techniques available to them.


Why Think About How to Look at Public Art?

Public art has the potential to engage audiences and get people talking when artists frame their work as inviting, inclusive, and dynamic. The cornerstone of a healthy democracy lies in discussion and consideration of how we collectively govern ourselves. LAPA refers to this free and open exchange of ideas as “democratic conversation.”

Some murals invite democratic conversation better than others. LAPA believes public art can facilitate these discussions by using a particular visual strategy. We promote a strategy that opens spaces for discussion so audiences can interact with the piece, and one another.


Our Approach

We focus on one strategy in particular: juxtaposition. Juxtaposition involves two things being seen or placed close together with a contrasting effect.

Contrast creates tension by allowing audiences to consider inconsistent possibilities while failing to unify in a straightforward message. Some murals employ visual tactics (a.k.a. visual rhetoric) to use tension and avoid offering simple conclusions. In doing so, they open up space for deliberation and invite people to engage in conversation.



Public art has the ability to name a situation as being worthy of democratic attention while simultaneously generating democratic culture.

By framing public art as equipment for creating democratic culture, LAPA tries to help artists and audiences gain a better understanding of how these texts can play a significant role in fostering an interactive world.



That’s a mouthful. Can you give an example?

Take the mural above. On the left, we see a dark and ugly world, filled with pollution and death. On the right, a beautiful scene of people living in harmony with their environment. The two very different scenes are placed together in juxtaposition, without any type of final resolution or straightforward message.

The comparison offered creates tension and invites audiences to discuss differences. Discussing these differences, weighing advantages and disadvantages of the two types of societies, while considering how we collectively govern ourselves, is democratic deliberation in action.