The Socially Engaged Artist and the Public Imagination

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

Thursday, April 24, 2014, 1:30–5pm

Pratt institute
Higgins Hall
1 St. James Place
Brooklyn, New York 11205

Pratt_InstituteJoin us as we explore the role of the public in socially engaged art. 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.

Introduction: Ann Messner, Adjunct Professor of Fine Arts, Pratt Institute
Artist and activist Ann Messner has consistently challenged the unresolved schisms between notions of private life/space and public/civic experience, focusing on the relationship between the individual and the larger social body within public discourse. Ann was a key player in The Real Estate Show, breaking ground as one of the first art shows to expose the inequities of real estate in New York. More recently she critically analyzed the “war on terror” through a series of tabloid and video works created with direct-action collective A.R.T. Meteor, her 1980 public intervention in Times Square, presaged our current age of technological reliance and interconnectedness.

Facilitator Shane Aslan Selzer
(artist, organizer and writer) develops micro-communities where visual artists can expand on larger social issues and deal with generosity, exchange, and failure. In each of these projects she assembles spaces where people can learn through interaction with others by provoking discourse that is informed by circumstances that are too often held “outside” of art. She is co-editor with Ted Purves of What We Want Is Free: Critical Exchanges in Recent Art (SUNY Press, 2014).

Jaret Vadera, an artist and cultural producer based in Brooklyn, explores the poetics of translation and the politics of vision through his interdisciplinary art practice. Jaret has concurrently worked as an organizer, programmer, curator, educator, editor, writer, and designer for socially engaged organizations that focus on using art as a catalyst for social change, including Community Arts Ontario, Rush Arts Gallery, and Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art.

May Joseph, Professor of Global Studies, Pratt Institute, teaches urbanism, global studies and visual culture. In her recently published book Fluid New York (Duke University Press, 2013), Joseph describes the many ways that New York, and New Yorkers, have begun to incorporate the city’s archipelago ecology into plans for a livable and sustainable future. Joseph suggests that New York’s future lies in the reclamation of its great water resourcesfor artistic creativity, civic engagement and ecological sustainability.

Rick Lowe, artist, activist, and founder of Project Row Houses, a neighborhood-based nonprofit art and cultural organization in Houston’s Northern Third Ward, one of the city’s oldest African-American communities.

PRH began in 1993 as a result of discussions among African-American artists who wanted to establish a positive, creative presence in their own community. Among Rick’s honors are Rudy Bruner Awards in Urban Excellence; AIA Keystone Award; Heinz Award in the arts and humanities; Loeb Fellow at Harvard University; Mel King Fellow at MIT; Skowhegan Governor’s Award; Skandalaris Award for Art/Architecture; and USA Artists Booth Fellow. President Barack Obama appointed Rick to the National Council on the Arts in 2013.

Support for the event provided by the Deans of the School of Art and Design and School of Liberal Arts and Sciences to encourage cross-campus collaboration and sponsored by the Departments of Fine Arts, Art and Design Education, and the Department of Social Science and Cultural Studies. Event coordinated by Heather Lewis, Associate Professor, Art and Design Education; Ann Messner, Adjunct Professor Fine Arts; and Uzma Rizvi, Assistant Professor Social Science & Cultural Studies.

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