Friday, April 25, 2014

Pratt Institute: A Community Exchange: The Socially Engaged Artist and the Public Imagination

Above:  Installation view, We Are The People.
Project Row Houses
, Houston, TX, 2003.
Rick Lowe, artist, activist, and founder of Project Row Houses
Photo: Sam Durant. © Sam Durant.

There are too few good days like this one.  Yesterday I attended a fabulous conference at Pratt Institute:  "A Community Exchange:  The Socially Engaged Artist and the Public Imagination".  LINK  What better way to spend an afternoon in Brooklyn than to hear of the works and ponder the projects of a variety of socially engaged artists and practitioners?  
Ann Messner, Shane Aslan Selzer, May Joseph, Jaret Vadera, Rick Lowe, Mendi Obadike, Uzma Rizvi and Heather Lewis all made the day very special.

The conference opened the dialogue on socially engaged art to brainstorm:
"What is the public’s imagination in relationship to social engagement and its potential within the society we inhabit? What is the nature of the public’s commitment to space and place, and how is it related to a social engagement that formulates new social imaginaries? This conversation will explore these questions and discuss the place of socially engaged art in our many publics."  (courtesy the brochure)

Even as the form of socially engaged art struggles to find the language:  the questions and the answers that will define it even as it morphs, it is very clear to me that the form has so much promise!  And the growing of a new, socially-engaged art program for students developing at Pratt sounds very exciting.

For entirely heart warming socially engaged art projects see Rick Lowe's Project Row Houses at his website
It is truly great stuff!
You can also read the NY Times article on Lowe here