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Bruce Altshuler
Director, Museum Studies, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, NYU Read More ...
Artway of Thinking
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NYU’s Grey Art Gallery, the contemporary art organization Creative Time, and NYU Florence host a two-day retreat on campus this week, November 30-December 1, to discuss art that is embedded in life and social issues within urban spaces, entitled ‘Socially Engaged Art Practice’.

Artists engaged in "social practice" respond to the most pressing political and social issues of our times. While socially engaged art and political activism can overlap, many artists strive to blur boundaries and disciplines. Socially engaged art projects encourage audiences to confront specific issues, shaking up the foundations of art discourse, and sharing techniques and intentions with fields far beyond the art world. A group of approximately 25 artists, arts professionals, and NYU professors will gather at La Pietra to discuss current issues and new developments in socially-engaged artistic practice. In particular the group will address the complex questions of the impacts and implications of this work in urban spaces. The retreat is a closed meeting, but New York University Florence students are invited to participate as student rapporteurs, taking notes on the sessions, which will contribute to the drafting of a final report.

Rebecca Lowery, Graduate Curatorial Assistant at the Grey Art Gallery at NYU New York will be holding a training and information session for student rapporteurs on next Thursday November 29 at 2pm in Villa Sassetti to explain the role of student rapporteurs and to answer questions.

Rapporteur work can also be used as the basis for writing original articles that can be submitted for publication on the LPD website, in English language newspapers in Florence, or other publications.

For more information write to

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November 29

2:00pm Meeting of student rapporteurs with Rebecca Lowrey, Graduate Curatorial Assistant, Grey Art Gallery, NYU

November 30

9:45am Coffee/rolls

10:15 Welcome
Ellyn Toscano
, Executive Director, New York University Florence

10:25 Introduction
Lynn Gumpert
, Director, Grey Art Gallery

10:35-11:20 Socially Engaged Urban Art and the Archive
Marvin Taylor
, Director, Fales Library

11:20–11:40 Questions and discussion

11:40–12:00pm Presentation
Anna Detheridge
, Founder and President, Connecting Cultures

12:00–12:15 Questions

12:15–1:30 Lunch

1:35–1:45 Introduction to artists’ presentations – why socially engaged art and what they are trying to achieve
Micaela Martegani
, Executive and Creative Director, More Art

1:45–2:05 Filming the Process
Marinella Senatore
, Artist

2:05–2:25 (improving lives of women)
Beatrice Cantanzaro
, Artist

2:25–2:45 Artway of thinking (social change)

2:45–3:00 Coffee break

3:00–4:00 Breakout discussions on critical issues in two groups:
Group A led by Micaela Martegani and Lynn Gumpert
Group B led by Anna Detheridge and Bruce Altshuler

4:00–4:15 Report by Group A

4:15–4:30 Report by Group B

4:30–4:50 General discussion

December 1

9:00am Coffee/rolls

9:30 Introduction
Nato Thompson
, Chief Curator, Creative Time, on culture in urban space
Central question: There is little discussion of the impact of civically engaged artwork outside of economic metrics. What are other metrics of impact and how do we measure up?

Case Studies:

9:50-10:10 On multiple forms of audience
Steve Lambert
, Artist

10:10-10:30 Discussion

10:30-10:50 On Weeksville Historic Center
Elissa Blount Moorhead
, Weeksville’s Vice Director and Director of Design, Programming, and Exhibitions

10:50-11:10 Discussion

11:10 Coffee Break

11:30-11:50 Projects
Jeanne van Heeswijk
, Artist

11:50-12:10pm Discussion

12:10-12:30 Measuring impacts of culture toward change
Michelle Coffey
, Executive Director, Lambent Foundation

12:30-12:50 Discussion

12:50-1:10 Watts House Project and Public Matters
Sue Bell Yank
, Assistant Director of Academic Programs, Hammer Museum

1:10-1:30 Discussion

1:30-2:45 Lunch

2:45 Introduction
Laura Raicovich
, Director of Global Initiatives, Creative Time, on how we address impact

2:45-4:00 Breakout sessions on approaches to the impacts of civically engaged art practices (facilitated by Anne, Laura, and Nato)
Group A: Who is it for? Visitors, participants, artist, institution? Relationship of artist to project/authorship?
Group B: Economic impacts large and small? Unintended consequences? Issues of social justice?
Group C: What roles do media, word of mouth, rumors play in impact of project? What is the role of documentation?

4:00-4:15 Coffee Break

4:15-4:45 Report back Group A

4:45-5:15 Report back Group B

5:15-5:45 Report back Group C

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