Harvard Radcliffe Institute Public Art Competition

A u-shaped structure in Radcliffe yard
HOLD, by Curry J. Hackett MAUD ’24 and Gabriel Jean-Paul Soomar MArch II ’24, MDes ’24, winners of the 2022–2023 competition.

Harvard Radcliffe Institute places a special emphasis on public art, where aesthetics, politics, urbanism, local history, and point of view intersect. Since the first call for proposals in 2012, the Harvard Radcliffe Institute Public Art Competition has transformed Radcliffe Yard biennially with student-designed public art installations in the Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Garden.

Intended to initiate conversations about the role of public art and design at the University and in urban space, the Wallach Garden occupies a prominent area on Brattle Street. Like other notable features of Radcliffe’s campus—including the shady, bucolic Sunken Garden along Appian Way and the central Radcliffe Yard—the site has a long history and attracts a wide variety of people and activities, providing a rich tableau for student-artists.

Launched in 2012, the student public art competition has yielded distinct art projects. The competition offers matriculated Harvard students an opportunity to showcase innovative projects at the intersection of art, landscape design, and structural architecture, as well as to heighten the visibility of the arts at Harvard. Students across the University, representing a broad range of programs and disciplines, compete for a prize, funding for construction, and mentorship throughout the process of installing their winning artwork.

The competition is made possible by a generous gift from Susan S. Wallach ’68, JD ’71 and Kenneth L. Wallach ’68, JD ’72, longtime supporters of the Radcliffe Institute for whom the garden is named.

The Radcliffe Institute Public Art Competition (RIPAC) is a biennial competition that invites students to submit designs for the installation of original public artwork in the Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Garden in Radcliffe Yard. The competition considers the role of art and design in the university setting and yields dynamic student-designed artwork, sited in a garden designed for year-round use.

The competition is open to all undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled in a Harvard degree program. Students may apply individually or as members of a team.

Key dates for the 2022–2023 competition are:

Oct 2022                                
Application portal opens

Nov 2022–Jan 2023                   
Learning opportunities offered online and in person

Jan 3, 2023                             
Deadline to register for Wintersession Workshop

Jan 9–13, 2023                        
Wintersession Workshop

Jan 27, 2023                           
Competition submissions due 5 PM ET

May, 2023                                
Announcement of winning design

June 2023–Feb 2024              
Design development

March–May 2024       
Construction and installation

May 2024                               

The winning design proposal will be fabricated, in collaboration with Harvard Radcliffe Institute, and displayed in the Wallach Garden at Radcliffe for up to 18 months. The student or design team who submit the winning proposal will receive an $8,000 honorarium and up to $10,000 in funding for the fabrication and installation of the work.

Harvard Radcliffe Institute welcomes proposals from a broad range of perspectives. Areas of special interest include cross-disciplinary and engaged scholarship and work that relates to pressing social issues and/or seeks to actively engage audiences beyond academia.

We welcome proposals that connect the arts with the Institute’s focus areas in climate change, with a focus on climate justice; law, education, and justice; and legacies of slavery.

Proposals that reflect Radcliffe’s unique history and institutional legacy; that center on women, gender, and society; or that draw on the Schlesinger Library’s collections, are also of strong interest to the review committee.

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2022–2023 academic year.

For full information about competition guidelines, site and installation, budget, eligibility, learning opportunities, review process, and timeline, see the full competition brief and site plans. Once you have reviewed the material, if you have additional questions please contact Meg Rotzel, curator of exhibitions at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute (publicart@radcliffe.harvard.edu).

The following information is required:

  • Two design views of the proposed installation, viewable on one slide and uploaded as a single PDF
  • A written description of the design vision (up to 500 words) that includes the design title. A detailed plan for taking the project from vision to reality (up to 500 words)
  • Completed budget worksheet (available on the online application portal)
  • A signed consent form from each team member (available on the online application portal)

The competition is open to all undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled in a Harvard degree program. Students may apply individually or as members of a submission team. In the case of teams, all team members must be currently enrolled in a Harvard degree program. Students who are on leave from their degree programs for any reason are ineligible to apply. Teams may include students in different degree programs and from different schools. Students in their senior year or in their final year of a graduate degree program are eligible to apply, so long as they are enrolled at the time of submission and when the winning design is announced.

The winning student/winning team must live in or have virtual access to greater Boston from June 1, 2023, to May 31, 2024, to participate in design development, the preparation of construction or installation documents, and the installation process. Participation will require regular meetings during all construction or installation phases. In the case of a winning team, a point person must be designated to periodically collaborate with Harvard Radcliffe Institute during this time period.

Radcliffe provides a Wintersession Workshop and online learning opportunities leading up to the proposal deadline.

Three Learning Opportunities

  • Informational Zoom sessions in November and December 2022 and in January 2023 to review the competition brief, answer student questions live, and provide further thematic guidance
  • Curated list of existing online resources about relevant public art and public art fabrication posted on RIPAC pages on HRI website; links accessible to all
  • Hour-long, in-person, site visits in November and December 2022, and in January 2023 with Radcliffe staff to review the site, answer student questions, and provide further thematic and other guidance. Sign up to join us for the RIPAC Wallach Garden site tour.

Dates and registration information for these opportunities will be available on this page in early November. If you would like to be contacted when this information is available, please add your contact details to this form.

Wintersession Workshop

January 9–13, 2023

10 AM to 3 PM daily at the Harvard ArtLab

Sessions are in-person

Sessions led by expert in the field who is engaged in public art, design of public spaces, and site-specific artworks

Additional sessions led by Radcliffe staff for site-specific and thematic information

Group site visits, group critiques, and individual advising sessions available

Register by Monday, January 3, 2023, to participate in the workshop

Contact publicart@radcliffe.harvard.edu for more information

This intensive workshop prepares students to compete in the Radcliffe Institute Public Art Competition. Technical and theoretical teaching will occur online to maximize access, and group critiques and advising may be offered in-person. Site visits will also be available. The workshop is free and open to currently enrolled Harvard students. It exposes students to the history and practice of public art, thematic interests of the Institute, and links students with mentors who can offer guidance on the technical aspects of creating proposals for this competition. Participating students must register for the workshop by January 3, 2023, arrive with an idea that can be developed at the workshop, and attend all workshop sessions. Attending the workshop is strongly encouraged, but is not required, to participate in the Radcliffe Institute Public Art Competition.

Past Competition Winners