Summer 2023 Program Recap: Inspiring Imagination Through Public Art

At TEMPOart, we believe in the transformative power of public art and its potential to inspire innovative learning opportunities for people of all ages. Our commitment to fostering creativity, community engagement, and collective imagination is at the heart of our mission. This summer, our programs once again brought the magic of public art to life, thanks to our valuable partnerships and the incredible Carousel Cosmos by Chris Miller, a TEMPOart commission on the Western Promenade on view from June 2023 – June 2024.

In 2023, we were delighted to partner with Chris Miller, the artist behind Carousel Cosmos, who played a pivotal role in our summer programs. Chris didn’t just share his art; he connected with our students, sparking their creativity and answering their inquisitive minds. Through engaging discussions and personal insights, Chris provided a unique opportunity for young artists to explore the world of public art and understand the stories that have shaped his incredible creations.

At the outset, young artists were faced with a delightful dilemma – how should they interact with these lifelike sculptures? Should they pet them? Could they ride them, even though they were inanimate? These questions evolved into captivating conversations about the roles of animals and humans in different societies, giving birth to a world of imagination.

As the summer camp progressed, our budding artists began to visualize a world where animals had the freedom to move like humans. They sketched vibrant scenes of the Western Promenade as if Carousel Cosmos’ animals had sprung to life. They didn’t stop at drawing; they got hands-on experience by sculpting their own animals, both real and imagined, from clay.

Our young artists demonstrated remarkable creativity by crafting 3-D sculptural hats, each adorned with a paper-mache character or creature, inspired by the Carousel Cosmos. Others took on the challenge of creating articulated cardboard puppets of the carousel animals, adding a new layer of artistic expression. Our programs transcended traditional artistic boundaries as participants wove new mythological stories and performances to accompany their unique creations. These captivating narratives were then shared with friends and family, bringing the joy of art into our broader community.

Chris Miller designed Interdimensional Craft Kits, assembled by Chickadeeds volunteers, for pediatric patients at the nearby Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. This collaboration extended the reach of public art to those in need in our community, providing a ray of hope and creativity during their hospital stay.


Here’s what our partners had to say about the impact of the 2023 summer programs:

Mayo Street Arts: “Our students were absolutely enamored with the sculptures. Students’ imaginations were sparked as they tried their own hands at sculpting animals—both real and imagined—from clay back at MSA during the final week of camp.”

Side x Side Oak Street Studios: “Students created mythological stories to go along with their creations, drawing inspiration from their time spent with the installation and conversations with Chris Miller.”

Portland Stage Company: “Participants explored the work with all of their senses, met the artist, built narrative and physical performance inspired by the work, and created a unique performance that they shared with their friends and family on the final day of camp.”

In 2023, our summer programs not only connected youth with creativity and community but also extended the joys of public art to those who needed it most. We are excited about the continued impact of TEMPOart and look forward to many more seasons of artistic inspiration and community engagement. Thank you for your support in making this possible.

Photos courtesy of program partners Side x Side, Oak Street Studios, and Chickadeeds