This year, we had 325 project submissions to the Americans for the Arts Public Art Network (PAN) Year in Review. Of these, 49 were selected as outstanding public artworks. Annually, the PAN Year in Review recognizes outstanding public art projects that represent the most compelling work for the year from across the country. As part of that recognition, we invited the artists and funders/commissioning agencies to submit blogs to us telling us about the story behind the artwork—whatever that means to them.

This week on ARTSblog, we present you with posts from more than a dozen different perspectives, reflecting on anything from the administrative challenges of public art projects to the artistic thought processes that brought us these amazing works. As I reviewed each post, what I found was that underneath each story was a lesson to be learned—this included a better understanding of how an artist approaches their work, the impact a public artwork has on a community, and even some a-ha! moments shared from both administrators and artists alike.

New this year, we took this opportunity to highlight some of the lessons outlined in each blog post to help us all better understand the energy, thoughts, and learning needed to create impactful works of public art. So, let’s spend this week reflecting on the work taken on by those brave enough to make public art happen in their communities.