Art for All: Dr. Shay Welch’s Vision of Inclusivity

Dr. Shay Welch, current Scholar-in-Residence for the Atlanta BeltLine.

Dr. Shay Welch, the current Scholar-in-Residence for the Atlanta BeltLine, brings a fresh perspective to the intersection of art and community engagement. With a focus on inclusivity and authenticity, she seeks to bridge the gap and invite diverse voices to shape the cultural landscape of Atlanta. The Art on the Atlanta Beltline Residency Program is designed to offer real-world exposure operating within the realm of public art and infrastructure while providing a platform to educate emerging public art creative professionals.  As the current Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. Welch blends creativity, scholarship, and social consciousness in her residency project, “Public Performance Art as Resistance to Epistemic Injustice.”

Central to Dr. Welch’s project is the belief that art should be accessible to all and actively engage diverse communities. The public performances offer both creativity and authenticity, as she recruits local performers from diverse backgrounds to conduct stealthy, undercover performances in public spaces along the BeltLine. These performances, devoid of spectacle or announcement, aim to seamlessly integrate art into everyday life, inviting genuine and unfiltered reactions from those who encounter it. Alongside the performances, she will also conduct survey sessions that aim to ignite meaningful dialogue and empower individuals to connect with art.

As Dr. Welch takes to the trails for her survey sessions, she invites individuals to reflect on their perceptions of public art and its relevance to their lives. By ensuring everyone feels seen and valued, she is empowering Atlantans to actively participate in shaping the cultural landscape of their community. By engaging with individuals who may not typically interact with traditional art spaces, Dr. Welch seeks to democratize creativity by fostering connections between performers and public audiences, particularly those often marginalized or overlooked.

She says, “My hope is that in talking to different kinds of people when I’m doing the surveys is that they feel included in the art no matter who they are, no matter what they look like, no matter what they’re wearing.”

Dr. Welch’s ongoing research signals a future where art transcends boundaries, enriching the lives of all who encounter it. Her dedication to challenging assumptions and reimagining the role of art in public spaces aligns seamlessly with the BeltLine’s commitment to inclusivity and community engagement. As her project continues to unfold, keep an eye out for the transformative experiences she’s bringing to the BeltLine. From surprise performances to thought-provoking surveys, Dr. Welch’s work is shaping the future of public art, not just along the BeltLine, but beyond its borders as well.

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