#7 Take a Walk

Social Practice:
Art projects don't just have to result in finished products or gallery shows. Social Practice is an art medium that focuses on social engagement, collaboration, and participatory work with communities and institutions. Artists working in social practice co-create their work with a specific audience or propose critical interventions within existing social systems that inspire debate or catalyze social exchange.

Different from art therapy, social practice focuses on the interaction between audience, social systems, and the artist through attention to aesthetics, ethics, collaboration, and activism. The social interaction is key. It is this component that drives, or in some instances creates the project itself. Although some projects may incorporate traditional studio media, projects are realized through non-traditional forms such as performance, social activism, or mobilizing communities towards a common goal.

For this prompt the invitation is to organize an intentional walk with a group of people as your art project. Harrell Fletcher is an artist who often works with walks as both a participation and an intervention strategy. These walks serve multiple aims including education (walkers learn more about the history, geography and other elements of the location they are walking in,) human connection, health and wellbeing just to name a few.

In 2014 Fletcher took a group of students on a 5-day walk from Portland, OR to Mount Hood. Along the way participants learned about Oregon’s regional natural history, contemporary urban and rural issues, and the art of walking. In another project Fletcher took a group to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado. During the walk each participant gave a lecture about an aspect of the environment they were walking through from a variety of disciplinary perspectives including geology, botany, history, map making, etc.

 2014 - Mount Hood Walk with Harrell Fletcher

2014 - Mount Hood Walk with Harrell Fletcher

 Mount Hood Walk with Harrell Fletcher

Mount Hood Walk with Harrell Fletcher

Your walk doesn't have to be for multiple days or to any particular destination, it could just be a walk in your neighborhood. The point of this project though is to be intentional about both the walking and the social interaction that can happen while walking. Some of you may choose to start a walking group that doubles as a book club (talk and walk!) others may choose to walk with only one other person and as a way to interview them or learn about something, still others may choose to plan a route that takes you through parts of a city that aren't normally noticed but have interesting history or are the home of current political issues. Whatever kind of walk you take, remember that you make the road by walking!

 A Walk to Pike's Peak with Harrell Fletcher

A Walk to Pike's Peak with Harrell Fletcher

#6 Host a Dinner

Social Practice:
Art projects don't just have to result in finished products or gallery shows. Social Practice is an art medium that focuses on social engagement, collaboration, and participatory work with communities and institutions. Artists working in social practice co-create their work with a specific audience or propose critical interventions within existing social systems that inspire debate or catalyze social exchange.

Different from art therapy, social practice focuses on the interaction between audience, social systems, and the artist through attention to aesthetics, ethics, collaboration, and activism. The social interaction is key. It is this component that drives, or in some instances creates the project itself. Although some projects may incorporate traditional studio media, projects are realized through non-traditional forms such as performance, social activism, or mobilizing communities towards a common goal.

For this prompt the invitation is to host a dinner as an art project. Here are the ingredients to work with:

  • 5-10 people, at least half of whom did not know each other previously, and at least one third of whom you do not know well
  • A conversational theme... This could be anything of your choosing but should be something that you think each of your participants will have knowledge or direct experience with and be able to contribute towards in conversation
  • A menu that incorporates either, A.) ingredients that have to do with the conversational theme, B.) ingredients that have to do with the unique backgrounds of your guests, or C.) both!
    • ** If choosing option B or C I highly suggest a potluck wherein you ask guests to bring dishes that have personal relevance to them

That's it!

Consider how you would like to facilitate the dinner and suggest interaction around your theme. Then allow the interactions you have with people before, during, and after the dinner to be the art project. Your goal here as an artist is to facilitate space for meaningful exchange and surprise. If you want some inspiration check out how Nigerian chef Tunde Wey is organizing dinners as a space to talk about blackness in America, or how Shanna Castillo has been organizing dinners that host immigrant communities to bond with one another and learn about each other's cultures.

** Bonus points for your project: If it feels appropriate to snap some photos or document your event in another way (drawings, menus, or quotes from the conversation are all possibilities) send them to me and I'll upload them as examples for this post!**

 Chef Tunde Wey, left, and journalist Tony Norman, right, lead a discussion over dinner in Pittsburgh. (Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post)

Chef Tunde Wey, left, and journalist Tony Norman, right, lead a discussion over dinner in Pittsburgh. (Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post)

 Kate McCaffrey, gesturing center, was the host of a Syria Supper Club dinner in Maplewood, N.J.CreditTess Mayer for The New York Times

Kate McCaffrey, gesturing center, was the host of a Syria Supper Club dinner in Maplewood, N.J.CreditTess Mayer for The New York Times

 



 

#5 Make a Personal Photo Essay

This prompt was inspired by Lucy who introduced herself to the group this way (thanks Lucy!) I love how she gives us a peek into her life and personality through details that are meaningful and intimate, yet also give us a lot of room for pondering. For this prompt consider the format of a photo essay to create an introduction, or personal story.

Here is another great example of a photo essay, and here is a little video from Linda.com about making them.

#4 Share Your Creative Space

This prompt is from Bonnie! Here's the message she sent with it.

Good morning! It is beautiful here in Oregon today!

I find it challenging to stay to keep my creative practice open . When I create anything I feel that it has to have a purpose or reason for me to do it.

I enjoy working with fiber, so I started just sewing scraps together.  Then it didn't take long for me to have a purpose for what I was doing.

How do others just create for the joy of creating, with no outcome in mind? I always enjoy what I am doing or the process of doing but feel I always need a reason!

We all come from such different backgrounds but are all drawn here. I love it!  With this is mind I thought it would be fun to see everyone's creative space.

Where do you create? No staging, please just come as you are!

 Bonnie's creative space

Bonnie's creative space


Responses from others...

 From Elayna: " I have found much refuge in this space over the last few months and feel truly blessed to be in such a safe environment." 

From Elayna: "I have found much refuge in this space over the last few months and feel truly blessed to be in such a safe environment."