Social Practice Workshop

Social practices incorporates art strategies as diverse as urban interventions, utopian proposals, guerrilla architecture, "new genre" public art, social sculpture, project-based community practice, interactive media, service dispersals, and street performance.

Overview: The Field of Social Practices

The field focuses on topics such as aesthetics, ethics, collaboration, persona, media strategies, and social activism, issues that are central to artworks and projects that cross into public and social spheres.

These varied forms of public strategy are linked critically through theories of relational art, social formation, pluralism, and democracy.

Artists working within these modalities either choose to co-create their work with a specific audience or propose critical interventions within existing social systems that inspire debate or catalyze social exchange.

The Social Practices Area of Concentration

The Graduate Program in Fine Arts offers a concentration in social practices (SOPR).

Because many of the opportunities for creating fully realized social artworks come from public commissions, long-term residencies, or the creation of alternative institutions or collectives, the SOPR concentration has three goals:

  • prepare students to conceive projects
  • articulate narratives that support them
  • cultivate a network of fellow practitioners and supporting institutions

Field-Based Model

The SOPR concentration, therefore, adopts a field-based model for its curriculum that is designed to immerse its participants in the discourse of a social arts practice and to provide them with opportunities to work contextually in a variety of public spheres:

  • urban environments
  • social groups
  • popular media (e.g., newspapers, Internet publications, and public advertising spaces)

Students emerge with an in-depth understanding of theoretical issues and the ability to formulate a deep rationale for their practice, which will extend beyond their degree.

The combination of theory and practice culminates in a final project and a written master's thesis that combines a thorough analysis of students' own projects with supporting text that relates their work to theories of art or social construction.

Visiting Artists & Scholars

A fundamental component of the SOPR concentration is its visiting artists and scholars. These professionals teach within with the SOPR workshop program, serving as guest instructors and taking part in the discourse related to students' work.

They share office/workspace within the SOPR workshop area, giving them a valuable proximity to students' daily practice and discourse.

Faculty & Students: Interaction

This arrangement allows for spontaneous and informal interaction between faculty and students, enriching the educational experience beyond the limitations of books, reviews, websites, and documentation.

This ability to foster an ongoing dialogue about the experience of creating projects and about how students' work fits within the context of social arts practice is a hallmark of the SOPR concentration.

Embedded within the Graduate Fine Arts curriculum, the SOPR concentration enables students to immerse themselves in interdisciplinary study, taking critique and theory seminars with studio-arts masters students as well as elective seminars with students from the following programs:

  • architecture
  • curatorial practice
  • design
  • visual and critical studies
  • writing

Students' work, therefore, whether fully realized or in the form of proposals or in-process reports, benefits from critical consideration across a variety of discourses.