About PLAY at Yanaguana Gardens

PLAY is a series of public art installations in Yanaguana Garden at Hemisfair. A team of six artists was assembled by lead artist Stuart Allen to develop a collection of related, site responsive artworks throughout the park.

After multiple site visits and meetings off-site, a common thread emerged within the group that centered on the idea of play. Of course ‘play’ is a multifaceted term and the artists considered the word from many perspectives: from the idea of imaginative children’s play, to a dramatic production, to the notion of playing with time. And while children are a primary audience, the installations that make up PLAY possess a depth of meaning that appeals to a wide age range.

The importance of play is well documented in the scientific community, with research indicating that humans who engage in regular playful acts demonstrate improved cognitive and creative abilities, greater emotional stability, and higher levels of reported happiness. This project aims to celebrate the concept of play through a sequence of surprising, contemplative and lively art experiences.

The artist team was assembled as a collective. Comprised entirely of local artists, the group brought a wealth of knowledge about San Antonio culture and history that is reflected in the sensitivity and relevance of the resulting projects. They shared ideas, critiqued works in progress, and suggested new directions for individual pieces. This dialogue was rewarding and productive for all involved.

Each of the PLAY artists brought a unique skill set to the group, and each considered how their work would compliment and support the larger project. While each installation stands on its own, the collective works can be read as variations on a complex theme. PLAY aims to supplement the already ambitious plans for Hemisfair with additional layers of meaning, new perspectives, and unique opportunities for community engagement.

All PLAY artworks: Collection of the City of San Antonio, commissioned by Public Art San Antonio