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Can art inspire me to think critically about...? 2017

As the Artist in Residence at Portland State University’s Housing and Residence Life department, I worked closely for three years with the administration, faculty, and students who were part of the Living and Learning Communities in the residence halls. Throughout the 2016-2017 academic year, I hosted workshops with first-year students from non-art classes at the Portland Art Museum, and they did assignments designed to get students thinking about the value of art outside of an art context. Those workshops resulted in a series of student projects investigating current events, globalism, immigration, social justice, climate change, intersectional feminism, and police brutality.

After working with the students, I had a lot of questions about the role of artists in society, so I created an award called the Distinguished Socially-Engaged Art(ist) Educators of the Region (DSEAER) award which I used to entice people I admire to answer some of my big questions. Those questions include but are not limited to, “Can artists elucidate the opaqueness of social problems?,” “What is critical thinking?,” and “Who is the museum for?” In exchange for accepting the award, the DSEAERs wrote essays which were published in a book alongside student projects from the workshops; all the students, faculty, and DSEAER's who participated received a free copy and all profits from the book go towards making a scholarship at the university for students to get free passes to the museum. In addition to the book, there was an exhibition featuring student work, a living bibliography performance, an education library in the gallery, free wifi, and a public program highlighting the DSEAERs.

Distinguished Socially-Engaged Art(ist) Educators of the Region 2017

Roya Amirsoleymani
Ariana Jacob
Sheetal Prajapati
Coco Fusco
Hannah Jickling and Helen Reed
Ralph Pugay
Yaelle Amir
Kristan Kennedy
Libby Werbel
Stephanie Parrish

The exhibition featured a timeline of social-engagement at the Portland Art Museum, created by Jen Delos Reyes.It also featured student artwork and documentation from our time at the museum together throughout the year.

The exhibition featured a timeline of social-engagement at the Portland Art Museum, created by Jen Delos Reyes.It also featured student artwork and documentation from our time at the museum together throughout the year.

In the winter of 2017, I co-hosted a public reading and exhibition of first-year student work produced as part of the museum workshops with folks from the Housing and Residence Life department. It was called Stars of Our Halls, and there was live-screen printing with Lauren Moran because screen-printing was a big part of the work we saw at the museum.

In the winter of 2017, I co-hosted a public reading and exhibition of first-year student work produced as part of the museum workshops with folks from the Housing and Residence Life department. It was called Stars of Our Halls, and there was live-screen printing with Lauren Moran because screen-printing was a big part of the work we saw at the museum.

At the Stars of Our Halls photo booth.

At the Stars of Our Halls photo booth.

The eleven Distinguished Socially-Engaged Art(ist) Educators of the Region are people that fall into multiple categories related to art-education, and the region they hail from is my mind - they've all shaped how I think about socially-engaged art and public education. Their essays were installed as scrolls in the gallery along with their official card and hand-painted box (this set of items is their physical award).

The eleven Distinguished Socially-Engaged Art(ist) Educators of the Region are people that fall into multiple categories related to art-education, and the region they hail from is my mind - they've all shaped how I think about socially-engaged art and public education. Their essays were installed as scrolls in the gallery along with their official card and hand-painted box (this set of items is their physical award).

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As part of the exhibition, DSEAER's read their essays from the book.

As part of the exhibition, DSEAER's read their essays from the book.

The readings were recorded, and for the rest of the exhibition, you could watch their readings on a TV in the gallery.

The readings were recorded, and for the rest of the exhibition, you could watch their readings on a TV in the gallery.

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As part of the exhibition, I installed my current reading list as a library available for anyone to read while in the gallery.

As part of the exhibition, I installed my current reading list as a library available for anyone to read while in the gallery.

As part of the exhibition, I read for eight hours a day wearing my Living Bibliography uniform, and I took public notes on all my reading in this journal.

As part of the exhibition, I read for eight hours a day wearing my Living Bibliography uniform, and I took public notes on all my reading in this journal.

The Housing and Residence Life staff I worked with closely and a student featured in the book who participated in the year-long program.

The Housing and Residence Life staff I worked with closely and a student featured in the book who participated in the year-long program.

The exhibition was also used as a classroom throughout the run of the show.

The exhibition was also used as a classroom throughout the run of the show.

All the furniture (excluding the bed) that I lived with in my first-year student residency dorm room from 2014-2017 was transferred to the gallery for the final exhibition.

All the furniture (excluding the bed) that I lived with in my first-year student residency dorm room from 2014-2017 was transferred to the gallery for the final exhibition.

Book and poster design by James Casey.

Book and poster design by James Casey.