SOCIAL PRACTICE AS PEDAGOGY (Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities & Imagining American Research Cluster)

Co-Directors: Jennifer Bergmark, PhD; Ruth-Nicole Brown, Phd; Jorge Lucero, PhD.

Tentative Calendar of Meetings:

9/20/18 Cluster Launch at Gender and Women's Studies 5pm

10/18/18 The unveiling of The Confessional by Angela Baldus at the SIPYARD

11/1/18     READ THE UNDERCOMMONS, discussion to be at TBD at 5pm

12/6/18  Special screenings with guest Associate Professor of New Media Ryan Griffis, 5pm (Location TBD)

late January or early February 2019 Date TBD: Field trip to see the Stockyard Institute's Retrospective at the DePaul Art Museum and Compound Yellow in Chicago and Oak Park, IL. 

Late February 2019: Visiting Artist #1 lecture in conjunction with the Confessional.

Early March 2019: Visiting Artist #2 lecture in conjunction with the Confessional.

4/11/19 Cluster Closer: Small White Papers presented by Directors of the Research Cluster and Invited Guest. 


Description of the project and its purpose:


The purpose of this research cluster is to consider the intersections of art as social practice with art education and art exhibition practices relating to the pedagogical impulse of social practice. These conversations will include the co-directors research in artistic practice as pedagogy, empowerment through creative practice, and art exhibition practices while incorporating current graduate student interests and projects engaging cross-disciplinary interests in social practice as community engagement. This group of faculty and graduate students will host regular meetings every three weeks, as well as one visit to the Chicago area to meet with artists that are engaging with social practice through their creative projects.


Narrative proposal:


The purpose of this research cluster is to consider questions, readings, and projects that inform conversations about how artists/teachers/practitioners engage with a community in a productive collaborative capacity.  The co-directors will collaborate to develop conversations around their similar research interests and creative practices that involve community engagement through socially engaged art initiatives. These conversations will explore the ways in which art, education, and exhibition intersect with social practice as a call to action, an intervention, or community engagement through shared discovery, while investigating the relationship to critical pedagogy and the capacity to challenge or change norms and conditions within communities.



During meetings held every three weeks, 6-12 faculty and graduate students from across the College of Fine and Applied Arts and the College of Education will gather to discuss readings and projects that involve or relate to socially engaged art initiatives. Topics will include generosity, dialogical aesthetics, critical pedagogy, disruption and resistance, the Stockyard Institute, and art exhibition and public engagement. Each of these topics will be considered with respect to the role of socially engaged art initiatives as pedagogy and how this might inform how we think about education and art education in spaces both within and outside of K-12 schooling. With this critical understanding, our research cluster will begin to consider current local projects and opportunities for the development of future projects and scholarship that might challenge social norms and inequalities within our respective communities.


To engage more deeply with these conversations, we will visit Chicago area artists and project spaces including Jim Duignan, Mary Jane Jacob, Compound Yellow, and The Franklin. Our hope is that this visit can spark dialogue and partnerships that inform ongoing projects in Urbana-Champaign through the Art Education program, the ongoing partnership with Unit 4 and Stratton Academy of the Art, as well as faculty and graduate student research projects. As a research cluster, we will invite two visiting artists to come down to Urbana-Champaign to share their creative practices with the research cluster and the wider audiences of the School of Art and Design, College of Education and the University of Illinois communities.



Lucero's current research is concerned with the intersection of contemporary art practices with distinctly pedagogical properties (e.g. conceptual art, performance art, participatory and socially engaged art) and how those modes of operation propose alternative approaches to making, learning, relationships, ethics, spirituality, generativity, and civic engagement. He is currently writing about how these educationally-reminiscent forms of contemporary art practice function as permissions for a teaching practice that is also a highly sophisticated art practice. Coming from a studio practice, Lucero's research has unfolded from a desire to understand the confluence between his research activities (sometimes identified as art) and his teaching persona.


Ruth Nicole Brown is an associate professor in Gender and Women’s Studies and Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research documents, analyzes, and interrogates Black girls’ lived experience and explores the gender and racialized power dynamics of collectivity, particularly as it relates to Black girlhood. Through research and creative projects, she is interested in the ways Black girls make use of abstract concepts like freedom, justice, and power. She is the visionary of Saving Our Lives, Hear Our Truths (SOLHOT), a practice based, publicly engaged, collectively organized space for Black girls to envision Black girlhood anew.


Bergmark’s current research is concerned with art exhibition practices, increasing accessibility to art, and collaborative artistic practices. Formerly an art education coordinator and curator at the Beverly Arts Center in Chicago, Bergmark oversaw visual arts programming through gallery programs, classes, and outreach programming, partnering with Chicago Public Schools, local parochial schools, and suburban schools and libraries. Bergmark continues community arts programming as the Director of Everyday Arts Lab, an afterschool program at Stratton Academy of the Arts and as the coordinator of an ongoing grant funded partnership between the School of Art and Design and Stratton to support their arts integrated mission while providing art education students with valuable hands-on experience.


Lucero, Brown and Bergmark are invested in expanding the dialogue between education and art education program to include publicly engaged scholarship and to facilitate conversations amongst graduate and undergraduate students in the formation of their pedagogical practices.