Public Art Sought for Memphis Convention Center Atrium

Posted by City of Memphis ; Posted on 
Public Art; Visual - DEADLINE :  
Public Art Sought for Memphis Convention Center Atrium




UrbanArt Commission (UAC) is partnering with the City of Memphis and the Memphis Convention Center Board of Commissioners to produce a large-scale sculpture in the main atrium that welcomes visitors to the renovated facilities.

Budget: $350,000 -$400,000

Eligibility: Any artist currently living and working in the United States

Deadline: Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Project Background
Originally opened in 1974, the Memphis Convention Center sees approximately 500,000 visitors annually and has generated an economic impact of $73 million in the last 5 years. The adjoining Cannon Center for Performing Arts was opened in 2003. The Memphis Convention Center is being reimagined as the facility undergoes an important expansion and upgrade with modern enhancements. The dramatic renovation of the convention center is currently underway and will be complete by Fall 2020. The renovations will create new meeting spaces, greater flexibility for room configuration, expanded visibility and connection to the Mississippi River and downtown skyline, natural light throughout the building, and more visible points of entry and wayfinding to enhance visitor experience for both Memphians and those traveling to our city.

The $200 million dollar project is more than an expansion and renovation. It’s a transformation of the building’s interior and exterior through which every square inch of the convention center will be touched by this project, bringing high end finishes and amenities. Through an extraordinary effort of long range planning with meeting planners and groups that utilize space in the building annually, the Memphis Convention Center is continuing to host events and open for business during the renovation timetable.

As part of the overall reimagining of the convention center, $1 million has been allocated to produce new site-specific public art projects at key locations throughout the facility, as well as ten spaces for rotating exhibitions from Memphis-based artists and arts organizations.

Scope of Work
UrbanArt Commission (UAC) is partnering with the City of Memphis and the Memphis Convention Center Board of Commissioners to produce a large-scale sculpture in the main atrium that welcomes visitors to the renovated facilities. The selection committee expresses an interest in a public art piece that will speak to one or more of the following themes (additional information will be provided to finalists invited to submit site-specific proposals):

  • Natural assets of the area including the Mississippi River, Mississippi Flyway, and a dense tree canopy
  • Celebrate the rich history of music made in and inspired by Memphis
  • Honor the stories and experiences of the diverse communities and leaders in Memphis history, particularly indigenous and black communities
  • Explore the possibilities of Memphis as the city moves forward into our third century

The finished project should require little to no regular maintenance. Final artwork should complement the aesthetics of the site and the goals of the Memphis Convention Center renovations. The artist/s selected shall be expected to collaborate closely with site engineers, landscape architects, and any necessary party for the successful installation of the project, including the community. NOTE: Commissioned artists are permitted to work with outside contractors to fabricate the actual work of art.

Information Session

UAC will host an information session for artists interested in learning more about this project:  Tuesday, July 23, 5:30 – 7 PM, UAC offices, 422 N. Cleveland St., Memphis, TN

Artists may also schedule a meeting with UAC staff to review their application and portfolio. Appointments are available Wednesday, August 7 between 3 and 7 PM. Contact A.M. O’Malley-Miller at 901.881.8205 or to schedule a meeting during that time or if alternate times are needed.

Selection Criteria

The artist selection committee will select three finalists based on their applications, professional qualifications, ability to work within a budget, meet deadlines, and successful completion of previous public art projects. One of three finalist positions will be reserved for a Memphis-based artist. The commissioned artist/s will be selected based on the strength of their proposal following RFP invitation, and previous experience with the design of large-scale sculpture projects. Applicants are also expected to have the technical capabilities to design and install such projects, including providing maintenance instructions.

UAC and the City of Memphis are committed to equity and inclusion in our work. People of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, differently-abled and neurodiverse persons, indigenous peoples, youth, seniors, and women are strongly encouraged to apply. Artists who have not received a public art commission previously are encouraged to consider the opportunity and to reach out to the UAC team in advance of submitting.


  • Wednesday, July 3, 2019:  RFQ released
  • Tuesday, July 23, 2019 – 5:30 – 7 pm:  Information session hosted by UAC
  • Wednesday, August 7, 2019 – 3 – 7 pm:   Workshops hosted by UAC
  • Wednesday, August 14, 2019:  RFQ deadline
  • By Friday, August 30, 2019:  Notify finalists of RFP invitation
  • Friday, October 11, 2019:  RFP deadline
  • Week of October 28, 2019:  Finalist presentations to committee

Finalist Requirements
Each finalist will be asked to prepare a schematic design, followed by a presentation to the artist selection committee. Each finalist will receive a $1,500 honorarium for an original design developed specifically for the site. One of three finalist positions will be reserved for a Memphis-based artist.

What to Submit

  1. A typed letter explaining your interest in the project and your general approach/concept to its design and production. Please do not submit design proposals at this point.
  2. Up to 20 images of past work including title of work, date, medium, budget and project partners, if any.
  3. Résumé, not to exceed 2 pages.
  4. List of three professional references, including current phone and email.

How to Submit

Complete applicant’s materials should be uploaded via the UAC website only. Hardcopy packets, digital files, and CD-ROMs will not be accepted.

Please submit the application materials online by following the “MCC – Atrium” link at

Clicking on the Submit button will redirect you to our Submittable page, which contains all of our current open opportunities. Click the Submit button next to the opportunity that you wish to apply for, or if you are already within an opportunity, scroll down to the Create your account / Have an account? Sign in form.

If you already have a Submittable account, click the Have an account? Sign in tab to sign in to your account. If you don’t remember your password, use the Forgot? link on the login form.

If you don’t have a Submittable account, you must create one to apply. Create your free account by filling out the Create your account form. Fill in all information and click the Create Account and Continue button to continue with the submission process.

From there, you will be able to complete and submit your application. You can now use this account login when submitting to all future UAC opportunities. Once you have submitted your application, you will receive a confirmation email that confirms receipt of your full application.

QUESTIONS?  Contact Lauren Kennedy | Executive Director, 901.552.3934 |


2 comments Add yours

  1. Are you looking for a floor based sculpture or a suspended piece for this site?


    • Daniel–the best person to ask that question of is the contact name listed in the classified ad. Thanks!


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


Artsopolis Network Members: Akron OH | Austin TX | Bainbridge Island WA | Birmingham AL | Boston MA | Cape Cod MA | Cincinnati OH | Cleveland OH | Colorado Springs CO | Columbia SC | DuPage County IL | Essex County MA | Flagstaff AZ | Flint MI | Fort Lauderdale FL | Indianapolis IN | Kalamazoo MI | Kansas City MO | Macon GA | Main Line Area PA | Marin County CA | Marquette County MI | Mendocino County CA | Middlesex County NJ | Milwaukee WI | Montgomery County MD | Napa Valley CA | Nashville TN | Niagara County NY | Oklahoma City OK | Orange County CA | Orlando FL | Ottawa IL | Panama City FL | Pittsburgh PA | Providence RI | Quito, Ecuador | Richardson TX | Sacramento CA | San Antonio TX | St. Cloud MN | St. Croix Valley MN/WI | St. Johns County FL | Stillwater MN | Tallahassee FL | Tampa Bay FL | Utah | Ventura CA | York County PA