Art As Social Action
10 Years of Social Practice Queens

Social Practice Queens (SPQ) is a unique degree program and partnership between Queens College CUNY and the Queens Museum, focused on the intersection of art and social justice. Art As Social Action honors this decade-long pedagogical experiment by featuring interdisciplinary projects by nine local and international SPQ alumni: Alix Camacho-Vargas, Floor Grootenhuis (with Joel Murphy), Cody Herrmann, Jeff Kasper, Naomi Kuo, Julian Louis Phillips, Erin Turner, Pedro Felipe Vintimilla Burneo, and the Workers Art Coalition. 

The phrase Art As Social Action” is both a philosophy and a call for activity. It emphasizes the potential for artistic engagement to support positive political change beyond art for art’s sake, and creativity as a tool for connection and celebration. Through collaborations with organizers, political groups, and even labor unions, art that is socially engaged allows the artist’s mind, skills, and approaches to amplify community efforts and support acts of public service. The works in the exhibition embody these approaches through intimate explorations or demonstrations of natural and urban environments, issues of accessibility, community engaged portraiture and intersections of art and science.The exhibition demonstrates a particular focus on issues of care: how do we provide for and celebrate each other in the context of intersecting concerns, including climate change, gentrification, and struggles with togetherness. 

In 2018, Social Practice Queens published a textbook of the same name, which features lesson plans, essays, and interviews about the theory and practice of these creative strategies. The 2021 Art As Social Action exhibition will be accompanied by the release of a digital publication which will reflect on the 10 years of this partnership. The publication will include contributions from Tom Finkelpearl (Queens Museum Director, 2002-2014), SPQ co-founder Maureen Connor and Prerana Reddy (Queens Museum Director of Public Events, 2005-2018), Kendra Sullivan (Associate Director, Center for the Humanities, CUNY Graduate Center) and SPQ co-directors Chloë Bass and Gregory Sholette, Anlisa Outar (CUNY Cultural Corps), and current Queens Museum staff. 

Social Practice Queens is a unique MFA and Post-Graduate Certificate program developed by Queens College CUNY in partnership with Queens Museum. SPQ supports the integration of studio art with interdisciplinary research, community collaboration, environmental justice and critical urbanism. Founded in 2010, SPQ links together the resources of an academic institution, Queens College and the City University of New York (CUNY), and the long-standing community-based activism of the Queens Museum and other partnering institutions. SPQ’s goal is to initiate real-world change through practices of care, social intervention and aesthetic experimentation.

Art as Social Action is organized by Social Practice Queens (Chloë Bass and Gregory Sholette, with assistance from Anlisa Outar), with support from Queens Museum’s Exhibitions & Programs team.

Art as Social Action
is made possible with support from the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Humanities New York, and the Center for the Humanities at CUNY Graduate Center. 






Images: Cody Herrmann, installation view, Flushing Creek From Home, 2020, three-channel video, rug, wooden bench, 12 bound planning documents, and velvet cushion, dimensions variable. Courtesy of Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning; Naomi Kuo, detail, Flushing Art Tour 1, 2019, printed paper booklet, 7×5.5 inches. Courtesy the artist.


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