Presentation on Social Practice Art


Footnotes for the presentation:

From wk3’s reading social practice art (I’ll call it SPA) is contemporary art that says, aesthetics and capitalism are not everything. Therefore, SPA is not what the market wants to see, but what the artist wants to do for the world.


Defined by the reading is “Neoliberal artists are consciously engaging with issues around the world.” So it got me thinking, what differentiates artists from just anyone that reads the newspaper? 


Artists can actually do something about it. SPA gives voice to the issues and creates 2 types of impacts. The outcome can be TANGIBLE and QUANTIFIABLE. An IMMEDIATE SOLUTION to the problem, like the row houses, should be ACCESSIBLE or USABLE. 

The outcome can also be hypothetic. Like the Third Paradise Manifesto. It is INTANGIBLE, producing UNCERTAIN results that are difficult to quantify. For example, emotions and a change in behavior. Which takes TIME. The medium used is usually more abstract and personal because it projects the artist’s take on the matter, as compared to materialistic outcomes that focus more on the subject.

This is a meme that mocks at the ineffectiveness of SPA which triggers me.

So, how do we measure the effectiveness of SPA?

I think that for materialistic solutions, we can look at the end products. While for hypothetic solutions, the process of creating art is often more valuable.

As a product design student, I want to bring light to a category of art that people often overlook. Humanitarian Art. I believe it has the power to converge the best of both worlds.

Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum held an exhibition called DESIGN WITH THE 90%. It was one of the U.S. first museums to showcase humanitarian art to promote socially responsible designs. 90% refers to the 90% of the population and third world cities that do not have access to professional design services. By saying Design WITH instead of DESIGN FOR, it shows the artist’s active involvement with the community in need.


Tracy Ellyn is the founder and director of the Project: For Healing Through The Arts. The Project uses the creative process “to heal, transform, and enhance lives.” One of its many arts-related initiatives has been to present art classes and therapeutic arts consultation for special needs like troubled youths. Her art is also exhibited in hospitals and doctor’s offices to soothe the heart.


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