Art As Social Action
10 Years of Social Practice Queens
Mar 24 2021
Jul 25 2021
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.
The following public programs will be presented by current SPQ students and exhibiting artists: Cristina Ferrigno, Brianna Harlan, Cody Herrmann, Jeff Kasper, and Erin Turner.
Ongoing: Call & Response is a participatory survey by current SPQ student Brianna Harlan designed to collect information about how visitors emotionally respond to the exhibition. When we engage with art, we hope that it will speak to us in some way. Harlan has created a card for each artwork on view in Art As Social Action, featuring a series of prompts that encourage the visitor to “speak back”. Completed cards will be collected in a submission box located in the gallery.
April 29th, 6-7pm: All Things Must Pass is an online sharing circle hosted by current SPQ student, Cristina Ferrigno accessible to the public via Zoom. This program corresponds to an activity zine by the same name, intended as aid to thinking about and processing grief. Copies are available in the exhibition and can also be printed from the artist’s website.
June 2nd, 6-7:30pm: Flag-Making for Collective Care
Join artist Jeff Kasper for a virtual workshop on creating graphic maxims for collective care in this time of crisis. Participants will use a digital collaboration tool to create flags based on found text and images provided by the artist. The hands-on workshop is held via Zoom in English with live captions.
June 19th, 11am-1pm: Guided tour through Willets Point to Flushing Creek
Starting at the Mets – Willets Point subway station, this approximately two-mile walk led by artist Cody Herrmann takes place in “the Valley of Ashes”, a reference to the history of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, popularized in The Great Gatsby. The route will trace city-owned property through Willets Point, under the Van Wyck Expressway, to Flushing Creek. Attendees will discuss water quality, local history, and plans for new development in Willets Point and downtown Flushing.
Four walking scores are presented alongside How to fall in love with a river: el río arzobispo (2019-2021) by Erin Turner, that correspond to four frameworks for the interpretation of the riverine landscape featured in her work: historic, playful, sociopolitical, and environmental. Visitors are invited to engage with these scores on their own time and to join the artist for a facilitated engagement with these walks in Flushing Meadows Corona Park followed by conversations.
Brownfield Boating: Paddling Tour of Flushing Creek
Enjoy a guided paddling tour by kayak or canoe led by artist Cody Herrmann along Flushing Creek highlighting water quality, sea level rise, local history, and current plans for development in downtown Flushing and Willets Point. Paddling experience recommended but not required.
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.