Public art is for the people. Whether object-based, performative, or interactive, public artworks are created to enhance the landscape of a public space by giving communities something out of the ordinary to reflect on, consider, and engage with. Trust Art, founded by Seth Aylmer and Jose Serrano-McClain, is an organization and philanthropic initiative that is not only invested in public art, the artists that create it, and the communities that share it, but also in finding ways to sustain the lifeline of public art projects. Trust Art has developed a three-year cycle that involves “shareholders,” community members that invest money, time, and other resources into public projects in exchange for “shares,” which are redeemed upon the project’s auction at the end of the three-year cycle. Currently Trust Art is producing and supporting the growth of 10 public art projects in New York City and around the world, all of which are invested in by “shareholders,” community members, and a network of artists. I recently sat down with Seth and Jose of Trust Art to discuss the history of the organization and their current pursuits.
JS: The idea of Trust Art goes back to our first driving question and problem, which is that there are people who have fame and social capital, and people who need it. Five years ago, when we first formed our partnership, Paris Hilton was the most notorious media story/non-media story. It seemed like we had reached a new level of absurdity with the distance between the people who had attention and the people who didn’t have attention who could use attention—people like us, people like our friends who have something to give. In a way, we started this as a documentary to create a fictional celebrity out of thin air.
SA: It’s called Fame Game now; it’s an online business and media site. It ranks people rising and falling in the media, and it has advertising, which brings in revenue. We don’t work at the company anymore, but Trust Art came out of that.