Happy December friends,
As the year wraps up I wanted to send an update of some activities I’ve been up to as well as some thoughts about organizations I think deserve your support.
First off – the subject of spreading resources! Every year I try to give money to support organizations that I see doing good work but who put more energy into that good work than fundraising. A few such orgs I want to shout-out this year are Highlander Center, Shaping San Francisco, Prison + Neighborhood Art Project, Interference Archive. They are all very diverse but are tied together (at least in my mind!) through their commitment to creating educational experiences and learning communities outside of traditional schools settings. If you’re looking for a place to make an end of year donation – I could not recommend them enough! If independent education is not your thing, then please consider supporting the work of Portlight/Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies – an organization I found while looking for groups doing hurricane relief that shared resources between Texas, Florida and the Caribbean. Read more here and here about this group which works with people who have disabilities and tries to address their needs during times of disaster and recovery. And wrapping up these thoughts of resource sharing, there is one more initiatve I’d recommend supporting: The Dona O’Sullivan Fund to End Homelessness in my hometown of Louisville. My dear friend Kelly’s father, Hadwin Burdick, was killed in a car accident this month and donations are requested to the fund set up in honor of Kelly’s late mother Dona who worked as a social worker and was passionate about ending homelessness.
The exhibit I curated, Organize Your Own, continues to tour the country and is currently in route between Grand Rapids MI and San Luis Obispo CA. Over the coming months it will continue to Texas, back to Michigan, and then on to Oregon and Kentucky. Programming and press are documented here but the favorite of recent months has been Toby Lee’s review of the book in Social Text from last August. Next August Dan S. Wang and I will be teaching a class based on Organize Your Own at the Ox-Bow School of Art in Saugatuck MI. People can take it for credit or not – if you know someone who might be interested have them get in touch. Also, I’ll be presenting about Organize Your Own at the College Art Association in Los Angeles in February 24th (if you’ll be there let me know!)
I’ve found that moderating panels, reviewing applications and serving as a guest speaker/critic have been ways to support and develop the conversations I want to grow and cultivate through listening to and reading the words of other practitioners. This fall there was a significant amount of that activity including reviewing for the A Blade of Grass fellowship and Open Engagement conference, both focused socially engaged art. In December I had the pleasure of moderating a panel at Philadelphia’s historic Hatfield House with Amber Art & Design and the Fairmount Park Conservancy with the focus on equitable redevelopment and the arts in Philadelphia Strawberry Mansion neighborhood. In January I’ll be playing a similar role at the Michener Art Museum for their “Art And Social Change” discussion focused around a documentary photography exhibition. And while I present at art schools regularly, presenting at a Social Work school this fall at the University of Pennsylvania about Organize Your Own was a real pleasure as was serving as an end of term critic for Community Arts program at Tyler this coming December.
There are a number of publications in the works I wanted to update you on. The Philadelphia Museum of Art commissioned me to do an oral history of the artistic team of their recent major exhibition project Philadelphia Assembled that deals with the theme of resilience in Philadelphia communities. That booklet is due out in the new year and will be available through the PMA. In the spring a new book focused on education for socially engaged artists is coming out and includes an essay I wrote specifically about the curriculum at Moore. The book “Activating Artifacts: About Academia” for which I contributed a major essay about art education is now in stock and shipping. Due out next year are essays in “Performing Revolutionary” on the work of Nicole Garneau and in “Fearful Symmetries” on the work of Faith Wilding.
At Moore I’ve really been focusing my attention to how teaching can impact school culture in general. This has been concurrent with the programs I run switching to be on a conventional academic schedule and therefor students being around campus significantly more than in the past low-residency model. We hosted “Caring for Communities” a fascinating lecture night by artists and designers working within the healthcare fields in September and ended the year with visiting critic Karyn Olivier and a off-campus event with Pablo Helguera. “24 Hour Monument” was a weekend long collaboration between our department, MICA’s Curatorial Practice MFA program, Mural Arts Philadelphia, and the curators of Monument Lab project. As I try to bring greater clarity into how to prepare diverse learners to be successful in Graduate school I’ve been working with our team at Moore to develop a “Grad Prep Day” for January 6th in which we will try to simulate what a day at school might be like. If you know any students who would benefit from this get in touch! In a similar vein we have recently initiated a “4+1 program” that allows Moore undergraduates interested in the intersection of art and society to receive a fellowship to attend our 1 year MA in Socially-Engaged Art program.
This semester I taught a MFA Professional Practice course called “Art, Life and Work” in which the students were introduced to a range of projects, lectures and workshops that were intended to merge the existential dimension of career talk with practical resources in order to get closer to determining what success means to them personally and collectively. The class offered me a chance to reflect on my own graduate education and in particular a panel I was on in 2012 that offered inspiration for a panel that our students led about “Life After BFA” for the undergraduate students at Moore. I was also happy to have my first experience teaching undergraduates at Moore in a class focused on curating art and activism. Throughout the course we were able to use exhibits like Monument Lab, Philadelphia Assembled and Speech/Acts as field studies to look into as well as developing a collaborative project in combining exhibition design with social justice values for the Leeway Foundation who are developing their 25th Anniversary exhibition for the Galleries at Moore in Fall of 2018.
This is it for the season’s updates. I am hoping you will send along your own and keep me updated about how you are thinking/acting/making your way through this disorienting time. If you have some downtime in the coming weeks and want to consider the nature of this disorientation I’d highly recommend the freely available Adam Curtis BBC documentary Hypernormalization.
Finally, my wife Emily Bunker just launched a website about her woodworking practice that I wanted to share https://emilybunker.com/ . Her approach to making and thinking and seeing is an inspiration and I thought you might enjoy.
Happy end of the year and start to the new year,