I hope you are safe and sound. It has been a long time since we’ve seen each other. I miss you. There’s so much going on that it is impossible to simply assess or reflect on, but I did want to share a bit about some experiences I’ve had delivering food for some mutual aid and social service programs in the pandemic.
In the wake of shutdowns last spring, grocery delivery services boomed in accordance with the parasitic nature of the gig economy. The streets were abuzz with doubled parked drivers while sidewalks are otherwise quiet due to workplace closures and stay at home orders. Similarly, numerous religious, social service and activist organizations adapted to distribute meals and groceries. In one particularly well-organized operation I became involved with, a refrigerated warehouse was staffed by unemployed workers three shifts a day to assemble boxes of donated food. The group was able to make use of the commercial delivery app designed for truckers, which allowed volunteers to then go to a neighborhood pickup site and have their deliveries sequenced for the easiest possible movement from home to home. Strangely it seems the logistics revolution has arrived to aid the mutual-aid programs!
Over the summer I’ve toggled between organizations, some with significant infrastructure and others much more stripped down. Lately I’ve been working with one focused on hot meals which has changed the smells and pacing alike. Having grown up around parents in the social-work field and done work around farming these spaces are not new to me, but to encounter them at this moment in time has allowed me to see them with new eyes. It also allows seeing the city with new eyes – locating the gaps of resources and the daily struggle for survival that was already here and now animates both new and reinvented forms of support. The caring infrastructure is inspiring me to rethink my work – and while I can’t say where it leads it feels grounding while little else can be described that way.
As my friend Carol Zou recently opened her newsletter “Usually around this time I send out my semi-regular artist newsletter AKA humble brag list of accomplishments, but for better or worse, bragging is so declassé in the midst of a global pandemic.”
Getting that made me reconsider sending this a few times because I think she’s right…but alas I am doing it and this is a roundup of some activity since last August ‘19 when I sent out my last newsletter.
Some updates from the last year:
I’ve continued screening my 2018 video essay Local Control: Karl Hess in the World of Ideas. Last fall it screened in Baltimore and Washington DC and this month will be shown virtually by Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester for a month long series including my earlier work Future Perfect, a discussion with Rosten Woo and a selection of works I curated from their archives. Details are here: http://www.vsw.org/screenings/film-series-fall-2020/localism-daniel-tucker-in-dialogue-with-the-vsw-film-collection-2/
Last November I was able to visit and at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland Oregon where the last iteration of the exhibit I organized back in 2016, Organize Your Own, was shown there at the Center for Contemporary Art & Culture – This version got some press and the local host Mack McFarland did a stellar job in programming it and hosting many visiting groups from throughout the city. It was a truly special experience getting to work with so many amazing folks on this project over the course of four years, but particular shoutouts go to the artists and writers who contributed to the project, venues and partners who hosted it, funders who supported it and and collaborators like Emma Saperstein, Julia Klein, Anthony Romero, Maori Holmes, Josh MacPhee and Hy Thurman who really gave the project support throughout over the 9 venue tour.
On other fronts, last August ‘19 I had the pleasure of doing an art faculty residency with the Assets for Artists at Mass MoCA and got to have some open-ended making time for the first time since I was in grad school. The results of this were the drawings “Strategic Universalism” drawings posted here https://politicalspectrum.info/we/ and featured in this online exhibit this summer https://www.umassd.edu/cvpa/universityartgallery/exhibitions/2020/we-are-all-contagious.html. The cohort of other residents were from schools all over the country and as a way to mark the occasion of having all these wonderful people together I made a short video interview called “Art School FAQ” featuring Lauren Adams, Kim Beck, Jill Downen, LaToya Hobbs, Beili Liu, Billie Lee, Eto Otitigbe, Imin Yeh respond to the question: “What is a question you have about art education today?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGFrb7rT4Xw. We’ve been corresponding about creating a part 2, as there is a lot that has changed about art education in the last year! More on that as it unfolds.
Speaking of art schools, I’ve been trying to do more reflective work about my teaching. Starting in 2017 when I wrote “Communiversity: Inside and Outside Art Education”, continuing in 2018 when I published a lesson plan in Chloe Bass and Gregory Sholette’s “Art As Social Action” book which received a recent review here in the journal Art/Research International, and then in spring 2019 with the roundtables on “Education for Arts Organizing” at CAA and Common Field, and in November of last year I presented a reflection on designing curriculum for training the next generation of community engagement workers at the Inclusive Museums conference in Buenos Aires Argentina https://onmuseums.com. All of these I hope to be able to turn into an essay sometime in the near future but for now exist as these compiled notes.
This last academic year I worked as a guest curator, along with Robyn Farrell and Jamillah James, for the MFA Thesis Exhibition for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) which was sadly canceled for this spring at Sullivan Galleries. Over the last year I got to work with Graduate Curatorial Fellows Nicolay Duque-Robayo, Rebecca Haley, Elizabeth Nichole Reed, and Adina Jade Cosden and as an outcome of this work as it pivoted online, SAIC has just finished launching The Future of Our Plans, an online showcase of work from their graduate class of 2020 which includes a dialogue on the curatorial process.
At Moore College, where I work in Philadelphia, we had some great plans for programs last spring with partners including Mural Arts Philadelphia, The Galleries at Moore, Philadelphia Contemporary. They were all canceled except one, organized by our graduating cohort of Chelsey Webber-Brandis, Sara Kleinert, and Camille O’Connor (along with faculty members Anna Drozdowski and Jacque Liu) with a special focus on how art is engaging in the public health crisis – you can see the documentation of the event and their work here: https://www.moorethesis.com/mfa-ma. The public programs are all pivoting online this fall as we host a program on museums and social engagement in a few weeks that you should check out https://moore.edu/calendar/conversations-moore-museums-and-social-engagement and another in October with A Blade of Grass and Grupo de Arte Callejero. You can also check out videos here of recent talks, including one in Fall 2019 by Mierle Laderman Ukeles on the 50th anniversary of her Maintenance Art Manifesto: https://conversationsarchive.wordpress.com/2019/11/04/mierle-laderman-ukeles/
Oh, and one more teaching note – one of the joys of the last year was getting to teach an ecological art class for the first time and we produced this field guide on the student’s work that might be of interest.
Over the last year I’ve been engaged in a curatorial residency with Mural Arts. This series of 5 “historic mural activations” was originally conceived as a process of neighborhood-based works that would culminate in an exhibition called Power Map at Drexel University’s Pearlstein Gallery. The exhibit unfortunately had to be canceled and so is currently being reconceptualized. The series has thus far consisted of new work developed by Marie Alarcon, Ken McFarlane, Eva Wǒ, Mark Strandquist & Courtney Bowles (w/ Tripod), and 22 Studio (Nasheli Juliana Ortiz, Marién Vélez and Lorna Mulero). We will be launching an online presentation of that work along with the folks at Public Art Archive in the Fall. Look out for it soon!
Finally, my wife Emily and I started a physically-distancing yard art gallery this spring called YIMFY2020. Read about it here https://yimfy2020.wordpress.com/
This time has been pretty difficult and alienating, so I am hoping that sending a newsletter is also an invitation for you to send along your own life updates and that we can reconnect soon.
PS. I don’t think I ever shared this! It is a video interview with Rebecca Zorach and I from the folks at the Gray Center for Arts & Inquiry who supported our work with the group Never The Same which worked on archiving political art in Chicago. Check out our video reflection here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqgJA4iFWho