QUERY: most recent scholarship in vernacular architecture / public art

Mark Krasovic's picture

Dear friends,

I am currently working with community partners in Newark to develop an exhibition and public programming on Kea Tawana's Ark, a three-story boat-like structure built and dismantled in Newark in the 1980s. You can see some great photos of the Ark here: http://www.spacesarchives.org/explore/collection/environment/keas-ark/

There's always some debate over what the Ark was: public art, vernacular architecture, a home, just a boat. It's often compared to the Watts Towers or the Heidelberg Project, for what it's worth. Whatever the case, I'm working a bit out of my expertise.

So my query is pretty basic: what is some of the best writing and who are the best scholars working today at the intersections of public art, vernacular architecture, and preservation? Those are the three areas that come most immediately to my mind in thinking about the Ark, but I welcome any ideas outside those areas, for sure!

Many, many thanks!
Mark Krasovic / Rutgers University-Newark

Hi Mark - what an interesting project! Here are a few suggestions:
1) Yasser Elsheshtawy has a chapter in "The Evolving Arab City" about how Abu Dhabi, UAE has had similar struggles with public art. Citation here: Elsheshtawy, Y. (2008). “Cities of Sand & Fog: The Emergence of Abu Dhabi as a Global City.” In Y. Elsheshtawy (ed.). The Evolving Arab City: Tradition, modernity & urban development. London: Routledge.

2) There's also this, a special edition of Built Environment journal which is oriented towards conservation educators, but might be relevant:

And 3) Dr Marjorie Kelly, at the American Uni of Kuwait, has studied roundabout art (very common form of public art in the Gulf region) and its preservation. She presented on this at the University of Exeter two years ago but I'm not sure if she has published it anywhere yet.

Good luck!
-Beth Derderian