Art as Social Action – An Introduction to the Principles of Teaching Social Practice Art

Social Practice Art is gaining momentum with more and more practitioners setting out to establish a relationship with the community to bring about social change through activities like art. Through creative ways, practitioners engage in discussion with the society about topics that will improve the quality of life for the community like labour conditions, immigrant rights and other pressing issues.

Art as Social Action’’ gives a general introduction to the principles of social practice with compilations of texts from leading social art practitioners, eminent thinkers and teachers. Contributions from eminent people in the field like Pablo Helguera, Mary Jane Jacob, Brian Rosa and Daniel Tucker offer deep insights into social practice art. It offers examples of pedagogical work and social models that other teachers can teach art as social practice and along with their students, irrespective of an art background can engage in.

The topics have been thematically arranged with subjects like social injustice, anti-bias, collective learning, urban imaginaries, etc. The book begins with lesson plans on art as social research and goes on to discuss economic inequity experiment and ends the chapter with a workshop on listening and the power of voice. With assignments and illustrations, the book brings it texts to life. It includes essays on various universities and their pedagogical curriculum of social art practice. It also includes thought-provoking interviews of institutes for artistic activism and prominent social art practitioners as well as teachers.

Interviews with leading social practice art educators

Pablo Helguera, Director of Adult and Academic Programs at the Museum of Modern Art, NY, talks about the importance and necessity of fundable research work through not just art but also by city councils and social service organizations that stand for the same social justice issues in the interview. Author Steve Duncombe in his interview talks about the recuperative powers of a university and how it can transform any radical struggle be it feminism, class analysis or critical race theory into a seminar.

Gregory Sholette, one of the book’s editors concludes with an essay on the difference between socially engaged art education and other forms of artistic learning and pedagogy. She points out that the lines separating the learning offered in school and that happens with social practice is not just merely blurred but is aggressively deconstructed.

 

Art as an activity for collaborative social change 

The book while serving as an immense source of inspiration with its lesson plans, tactics and bibliographies to educators and practitioners of the social art, may be less rewarding to others. Social practice art has encouraged people to bring transformation in communities by empowering them with skills and knowledge. Art as a medium of social practice came about due to rising pressure on art education to work collaboratively with the society in participatory formats. Since then, art as a medium of social practice has acted as a catalyst to social change and exchange. Social practice art has come to be known by terms like community art and interventionist art.

 

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