Saturday
Jul072012

Art, jokes, and social engagement in Mexico 

original article on PSU Institute for Sustainable Solutions blog:
http://www.pdx.edu/sustainability/institute-blog/art-jokes-and-social-engagement-in-mexico

This March, I was able to attend a three-week residency at the Guapamacátaro Center for Art and Ecology in Mexico with a travel grant from the Institute for Sustainable Solutions. The Guapamacátaro residency is centered in an old hacienda, a few kilometers away from the town of Maravatío, Michoacán. It is organized by Mexican artist and curator Alicia Marván.

The participants of the session were primarily artists who had interests and experience in other disciplines (such as agriculture and education), and who had specific concerns with the intersection of art, the environment, and the local community. Days at Guapamacátaro were structured organically, allowing for work to develop within the confines of the hacienda, or to interface with the surrounding community.


"Se vende chistes/Se compra chistes" Dillon de Give explored the culture of Michoacán, Mexico by asking locals to tell him a joke.

Agricultural production forms the basis of the local economy. Surrounding land is rich in natural resources, and is famous for producing avocados. Because of this, issues of land ownership, land usage/management, water rights, and the legacy of the power relationships left over from the hacienda system are ever-present. However, the larger political system in place is not often responsive to the subtleties of these issues.

Such systematic problems were discussed at length among the group. However, the focus of my work occurred on a smaller, more intimate scale. It began with a recognition of my incomplete knowledge of Spanish and a desire to understand more. I considered the idea that humor is perhaps the subtlest expression of a language. With this, I decided to go on a series of long walking trips. Along the way, I simply asked people if they would tell me a chiste,  a joke. Though I rarely “got it” these interactions served as a way to get a sense of the local temperament and to share in a moment I might not have otherwise participated in. I filmed people telling their jokes, and will use the footage as the basis of a new work.


Michoacán school children participating in an after school program with artists from Guapamacátaro.

In addition to this project, I was able to contribute to several collaborative projects that emerged from the cohort, including an after school activity group with students from a local elementary school, and the establishment of a vegetable garden, complete with a fence made from tulé (a locally invasive water plant). At the end of the residency, the community was invited to an opening in which the results of our work were displayed and discussed. About 25 people from the surrounding area came, some of who brought their children.

The residency allowed me to make professional contacts with people who share my concerns regarding art, the environment, and social engagement. I was also able to use the experience as a case study to examine how art can function in a context radically different from my own, and to develop the seeds for investigation into an artistic theme I will continue to explore.

P. Dillon de Give is a New York City based artist. He will soon hold an MFA in Art and Social Practice from Portland State University. You can see some of the jokes that Dillon collected at www.implausibot.com/chistes.

Friday
Jun292012

OC ART BLOG

Baseball and Art: OC’s two great passions

Posted by  on Thursday, June 28, 2012 · Leave a Comment 

Artist, Adam Moser at GCAC

The Cut-Off Men

Santa Ana, CA.  Downtown Santa Ana Artist’s Village gets a kick in the contemporary art butt with newest creative addition, Grand Central Art Center’s (GCAC) new Director and Chief Curator, John Spiak. Spiak is a whirlwind of creative energies, and his expertise in Relational Aesthetics and Social Practice are giving the Artist’s Village a transformative new take on the art scene in Orange County. Spiak is bringing in artists from all over the world, to engage and exchange with the Orange County art community. The Artist’s Village in Santa Ana is known for it’s trendy cafes and shops, and it’s heavy artistic flux and flow with galleries and artists around every turn. The caliber of art has been fluctuating between pop-surrealistic paintings and street-art inspired graffiti work for the most part. Spiak’s new twist in programming at the flagship institution of the Artist’s Village, Grand Central Art Center is broadening the community’s artistic point of view, and shedding some well-deserved light on this great art hub.

Grand Central Art Center’s latest Artist-in-Residence, Adam Moser hit it “out of the park” with a collaborative art piece that involved Major League Baseball. Sports don’t traditionally go hand in hand with fine art, but it would seem that Orange County welcomes baseball lovers into the local art scene. (let’s just hope he’s an Angels man). This social practice artist from Portland is realizing his lifelong dream of playing in the big leagues with the help of GCAC, and invited the public to try out with him on his 9-member tryout team, the Cut-Off Men. Moser was the latest addition to the artist-in-residence program at GCAC, but unlike some of the other artists that have come and gone, Moser involves humor, passion, community-oriented teamwork, and the weirdest part–sports into his art practice.

Moser spent many weeks preparing his try out team, and then actually traveling to the try outs in Compton with his Cut-Off Men. The team did not make the league, but the event was spectacular to witness and discuss with artist, Moser and Curator, Spiak. During some reflection time after the tryouts, Adam explained the workings of Social Practice to visitors, the relationships between the teammates and artist, the relationships between the world of baseball and the world of art. This kind of art makes us ask ourselves, “how does this project relate to the workings of Social Practice?”, “What are the relationships between the teammates and artist?”, “Are there really relationships between the world of baseball and the world of art?” It is clear to this writer that asking questions like that is kind-of the point when it comes to this kind of work, and it is this kind of work that is so refreshing to see and experience in the OC. Relevant, insightful, and community-driven artwork. A documentary film was made and screened at GCAC to commemorate the residence and experience.

Moser's Cut-Off Men at MLB Tryouts

Grand Central Art Center

125 N. Broadway   Santa Ana, CA. 92701

www.grandcentralartcenter.com

 

 

 

Tuesday
Jun192012

Art students build indoor greywater system at Field Work

With a grant from the 2012 Solutions Generator, a group of students led by PSU Art and Social Practice graduate Katherine Ball built an indoor greywater system for Field Work, a community classroom and art space that is collectively run by masters students in Art and Social Practice at PSU. For the last two years, the sink at Field Work has not functioned properly and empties into a bucket that is poured down the toilet when full. The student's solution uses mushrooms to filter the wastewater and plants to transpire the water into the air. While most greywater systems pipe water into outdoor landscaping, this building required an innovative indoor solution. You can read their plans to build your own indoor greywater system (pdf).

 

Wednesday
Mar282012

Call For Submissions to The Social Practice Workbook: DEADLINE EXTENDED

Call for Submissions
to The Social Practice Workbook

The Social Practice Workbook—Call for submissions

Deadline—May 23


The Social Practice Workbook is currently seeking submissions for a publication of ideas for working within the fields of social practice and education.

We are particularly interested in project-based lesson plans, exercises, prompts, and hands-on assignments.

The publication will be launched as part of Art and Social Practice Reference Points, a book series published by Publication Studio and edited by Jen Delos Reyes.  The ongoing series explores relevant themes, key figures, and applications in relation to the production of socially engaged art.  The first release from this series will include books on Temporary Services, Harrell Fletcher, Christine Hill, and The Social Practice Workbook.

Submissions to The Social Practice Workbook can be in written or visual form.  Feel free to pitch multiple assignments.  Send full-draft submissions to socialpracticeworkbook@gmail.com by May 23.

Please include the following information in your submission.
Title of exercise:
Submitted by:
Assignment description: 500 words or less.

Images
All images must be at least 300dpi.
All images will be printed in black and white.
Please deliver images via email in a zipped folder, clearly labeled.

Wednesday
Feb152012

Upcoming: Edgar Arceneaux MFA Workshop February 21, 2012

Edgar Arceneaux the director of The Watts House Project in Los Angeles will lead a workshop with the Art and Social Practice MFA students on financing in relationship to mission driven art initiatives, framing the discussion as "New Financial Architectures for Creative Communities." As part of the workshop he will be looking at organizations in relationship to the individual soul. He will be pre-sending an audio file to the students that is an analysis of Plato's Republic. The dialogues within the various districts of Plato's virtual city were metaphors for understanding the human soul. Arceneaux's will attempt to organize the social body in relationship to the understanding of the forces that rule the individual body.