American, born 1984
Artist Park McArthur translates her experience as a wheelchair user into quiet but politically charged reflections on how structures of dependency and autonomy dictate the ways in which bodies move—or are stymied—in social spaces. McArthur is particularly interested in how institutional or municipal signage operates to instruct, or impede, access. For a 2017 project at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the artist purchased a number of blank aluminum highway signs from the same commercial vendors that sell them to cities and towns nationwide. In Softly, effectively, she arranged a pair of signs to mimic the back-to-back configurations that hang above and across multidirectional highways. The work’s title riffs on a declaration from the Federal Highway Administration that such “traffic control devices speak to us softly, yet effectively and authoritatively.” By omitting “authoritatively” from her title and choosing not to add any paint or symbols, McArthur created a marker that functions as a silent monument to no place in particular and yet evokes a sense of mystery.