Alice Nalle SP

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Rick Lowe

Rick Lowe is a Houston based artist. He originally studied and trained as a painter, but in the 90s shifted his practice to focus "more directly the pressing social, economic, and cultural needs of his community". He studied painting at Columbus College and Texas Southern University in Houston, where he now lives. He is an artist in residence at the Nasher Sculpture Center, and is a Mel King Community Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His work has been shown at Houston’s Contemporary Arts Museum and Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Gwangju Biennale in South Korea, and the Venice Architecture Biennale. In 2014, he was awarded the Macarthur genius fellowship. Lowe's work is self described as "Social Sculpture". His works deal largely with community, and redevelopment, making pieces that directly influence and help better people's lives.



Reading Responses

Week 2

Conversation Pieces

In Conversation Pieces, Grant Kester gives us the means with which to talk about and understand the art practice that he refers to as "dialogical art". Using three examples of works that fall under that title, Kester shows us that though they may differ in approach and intention, they share a similar focus on "the creative facilitation of dialog and exchange" (Conversation Pieces, pg. 8). In these works, content is set aside, replaced with a focus on context instead. Kester recognizes the difficulty in talking about these works - the model of art criticism that is focused on immediate pleasure does not offer us a framework with which to talk about works that, due to their more experiential nature, lack certain aesthetic qualities. Perhaps in a bid to frame these works in a way we can understand, he compares their intentions to that of the avant-garde movement. Though dialogical art is not object-based, it shares similarities of effect with avant-garde objects - namely, their intention to reshape and rethink "preexisting roles and obligations... to reveal instead the experiential specificity of the world around them" (pg. 6).

What We Want Is Free

This text compares the act of gift-giving to an act of detournment. Using examples of art pieces that would likely be categorized as dialogical art, Ted Purves unpacks the idea of tactical gift-giving. He suggests that the world which we live in is not real - or at least, not the same world that it used to be. For this, he faults "industrial modernity, capitalist economic, and mediated culture" (What We Want Is Free, pg. 29) -- they have suppressed the impulse for social bonds, exchanging it with a faster and less personal mode of interaction. Purves employs a gift-based economy as a subversive tool to dismantle the new world.

Week 3

Social Acupuncture

Though this text covered quite a bit of ground, the main point that was brought up again and again was the importance of discomfort. I was not surprised when in the first part, Darren O'Donnell wrote that he had spent most of his time in theatre school reading Jerzy Grotowski's Towards a Poor Theatre. His desire for direct contact with the audience and a more equalizing experience that seeks to uncover uncomfortable truth seems to be influenced by Grotowski's theories. He writes that theatre is the only form where the creator and the consumer must both be present - making it not easily commodifiable. This made me think of Lucy Lippard's talk last term about escape attempts - trying to create work that cannot be commercialized or commodified (Six Years: Dematerialization of Art and Dematerialization of Art). O'Donnell writes about using discomfort not as motivation to smooth over or ignore differences, but rather as a way to acknowledge multitudes. He uses Gustavo Artigas's The Rules of the Game as an example - "The piece, even detached from its political context, can still provide politically charged content by proving that differences don't need to be ironed out; two sets of rules, norms and behaviors can exist in the same space at the same time and the difference can serve to unify" (Social Acupuncture, page 34). This idea of discomfort also fits neatly into his metaphor of social acupuncture - though in the moment, the acupuncture might cause localized discomfort, it serves to release and heal the body as whole.

Week 4

Public Space in a Private Time

Time was public but is not any more. It served as a focal point for a public space. The clock in the piazza perhaps served as the uniting figure - now the piazza is democratic. There are only small clusters. The public space is made private. Public space needs an intention - the public can make a private space public, but the intentionality in the creation of the private space lingers. The public is malleable, ready to follow. A space being in public does not make it a public space - not unless the people function as a public. People are dots. For them to be public, they must gather around. There must be an authority (time was an authority). Bars and cafes are places where you can buy an interaction. Relationships and sex are commodified. The virtual space is mythic and perfect. The electric is subversive. Information is fluid. Public art must be cunning. Public art is subversive and maybe sexy. It is also sneaky and tricky. Public space might be fragmented. Pop music is public space, and exists for the public to create and use.

I Am Searching For Field Character

Joseph Beuys is hoping to build "A SOCIAL ORGANISM AS A WORK OF ART". He thinks this is possible only if every single person is an artist contributing to the construction of the social organism. This is the only way to reach true democracy. In this true democracy, the human is a "spiritual being" with his works the divine imbued result. These "supreme achievements" are pushing us forward as a society, they are a part of our future. Oscillation and reciprocity are essential.

In and Out of Frame: Lorraine O’Grady’s “Art Is…”

This article talks about Lorraine O'Grady's "Art Is" piece, in which O'Grady, as part of the African-American Day Parade, ran a float that consisted of a large frame, with others around it carrying smaller frames, and framed the people attending the parade. This focused on the participants rather than the piece itself, giving attention to those who are normally marginalized. The viewer becomes the viewed.

Week 5

Time Capsule

Lippard writes that community-based art is the legacy of the art making and intentions that were happening in the 1960's. In comparison to activist art, community-based art is affirmative and based on communication, whereas activist art is centered around some kind of confrontation. Lippard talks about a few different movements, one being the conceptual art movement, part of which was against the sexistt "artist-as-hero" mindset of the Abstract expressionists. She goes on to talk about other activist art movements that have happened since the 60s, exploring the role that art plays in political movements.


This essay was a critique by Kaprow, on his own work. He writes about the happenings, and his perceived failures with how they unfolded. It is interesting to think about these happenings in contrast with a formal, theatre stage setting, because though they are so different, the stage setting is a good reference point for Kaprow in how his happenings should not mimic them. He wanted to get away from that structure, in search of a more truthful experience. This truthful experience is hard to come by, even when out of the theatric context.

Week 6

Design Thinking

In this article, Tim Brown gives us examples of how design thinking is/ can be integrated into every aspect of a creation or project. He describes how design thinking is all encompassing - that it is a non-linear approach to tackling and solving problems. He uses examples of different groups that have implemented design thinking into their process. One of them is Kaiser Permanente, an insurance company that used design thinking group to optimize both the nurses and the patients experience. Another example was that of a bike company that created a new bike, new system, and new marketing strategy to make biking more of a casual day to day experience. All of the examples he used in this reading were very capitalist centric. I would be interested in considering this way of thinking removed from the context of capitalism - perhaps even how it could be used to fight it.

Bootcamp Bootleg

Something that was especially helpful with this reading, especially after last class's discussion, was the encouragement for the readers to actively use and articulate what is being said in the article. It is like a how to guide. The Bootcamp Bootleg is set up to be used as a template - sort of like many of the works we have been discussing in class. Something else that has stuck out for me is the importance of empathy in design thinking. Everything that is said about it seems to lead back to empathy - it is all about understanding and relating to the user in order to create the best experience for you and them.

Design Kit

This website uses the same cycle that was brought up in Design Thinking - that of Inspiration, Ideation, and Implementation. I like the conversation starter section under methods - it sort of seems like a verbal prototype. I'm also interested in the Group Interview section - this might be helpful for us going out into town and talking to different groups of people!

Week 7

Relations in Public

A Manifesto for the Present

Number 8 on the manifesto says "The organization and self-education or groups in the community and workplace, and their networking and activism, continue to be the fundamental elements in steps toward the democratization of our social life and any meaningful social change" - this reminds me of the Margaret Mead quote we spoke about last weekend - "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." I am very interested in exploring this idea further - how can a small group of people make a real change? Will that change effect anyone but those within the group? How can these changes be brought about in a larger scale?

Week 8

Relational Aesthetics

In Nicolas Bourriaud's piece, Relational Aesthetics, he writes about art as the space where an immediate response, interaction, or dialog can occur - unlike other mediums, like television, where you are transported somewhere else, with art there is room for some kind of interaction. He talks about the spaces where these interactions can happen - often in public - in the moments where there is a chance of exchange. The works that he is talking about focus on this interaction as the meat of the project - the experience and interaction is essential to these works.

Week 9

The Materiality of Pedagogy

Ellsworth's idea of gaining knowledge is a layered experience that is simultaneously building and undoing. She is not interested in "learning as compliance" - rather, the act of learning as one in motion - pedagogy as motion and sensation. This true moment of learning happens in a transitional state of mind - the still mind that simply accepts what has been decided should be accepted is not a transitional mind, but the one that begins to think and experience in ways it has never thought or experienced it. How can this experience be materialized? Ellsworth looks to Maya Lin, who describes her work as being an experience of learning. The work demands the viewer not to stand still, but to move through it, embodying the physicality of the motion of learning. Moving through space becomes synonymous with learning - Ellsworth sites Muschamp, who gains multiple perspectives by "walking through, wandering through, being drawn in through, and breaking through a membrane that is merely the imaginary barrier of habitual and conventional ways of perceiving, thinking, and being." In order to understand these ideas, Ellsworth turns to the idea of "new pragmatism". He looks at authors who engage with "aesthetic experience", describing beauty and attraction as a material process rather than simply an intellectual one.

Latent Learning Curriculums

"In many ways the ongoing research Artiscycle is generating, seeks to re-frame the concept of learning as inseparable and inherently tied to actional contexts within social practices." This quote from the beginning of Latent Learning Curriculums seems directly tied to the ideas Ellsworth brought forth in The Materiality of Pedagogy. The works described here seem to engage in actional practices as a way to broaden ways of thinking and seeing, much like Ellsworth's idea about knowledge happening in transition. This ideology stood out to me particularly in the section about Superfront. Though they reference Acconci's "Seedbed" which I am NOT a fan of, their concept of their project as an "an interactive dream" and "a fertile field" seemed quite interesting and relevant to the aforementioned words on moving through space being a representation of the materiality of pedagogy.

Week 10

Pedagogy's Hinge

This chapter of Places of Learning, Pedagogy's Hinge, continues to discuss the various ways of expressing learning spacialy. Ellsworth writes about pedagogies that "create places in which to think without already knowing what we should think" (54), once more writing about learning as a process of undoing, where we are constantly thinking in ways that were previously unknown. Pedagogy is a hinge, allowing the process of learning to be swinging, in motion, much like the door attached to it. Ellsworth once more uses the US Holocaust Museum as an example of a space that encourages and mimics processes of thinking. The design of the space allowed for an engaged experience where information about the Holocaust was not simply told to the viewers, but instead was conveyed through the ways that encourage the audience to think and process in new ways.


Derive, September 14th

My derive started with parking my car in the CVS parking lot in town. I then walked up towards the more residential area. I walked past the schools. The streets were empty, and it was an overcast and windy day, giving my walk a slightly ominous feel. I stopped at the small bridge and looked at the river for a while. There were some benches that I wanted to sit on, but one of them was occupied so I did not. I realized my reluctance to sit came from a fear of the discomfort of an unwanted interaction with that man. I thought about fear, and my fear of strangers. I began to say hi to the few people I passed, and I felt more autonomous and less controlled by perceived discomfort. I looked at a church and thought about going to church when I was a child, and sunday school. I kept walking, but felt like I preferred my place on the bridge. I went into a store I hadn't been in before and looked at Vermont themed items, candles, incense, and notebooks. I walked down another residential street and saw a man with a dog. I circled around to where my car was parked, stopping at the river one last time.

Jon Rubin Talk, September 26th

At the beginning of his lecture, Rubin said that the material of his work is the social systems we all work through - including the banal and the intimate. He is interested in the trope of private made public, which he explored in his exploration of The Distance Between. From this line of though he created The Lovasik Estate Sale, where he explored death culture in the USA and it's relationship to consumerism and materialism. How thought provoking! His work seems to lead you fluidly from one idea to the next... This fluidity is mirrored in the actual movement of the piece - eg, the objects from the estate sale being repatriated. This idea comes up again in his Homing Pigeon project, where the audience participated in the care and training of the work, slowly expanding the piece from the museum and into the private home. Perhaps his most famous piece is Conflict Kitchen - my favorite part of this was when he spoke of "creating a sensory relationship with culture". This work seeks to make the uncomfortable comfortable again. It certainly made at least one person in the audience uncomfortable - an older man sitting near us reacted quite strongly to the kitchen serving Palestinian food, asking a misguided and accusatory question at the end of the lecture, and then muttering under his breath "this is propaganda!!!!"

  • Links on Rubin's work:

1st Collaboration: Olivia and Rosie’s Big Adventure

For this assignment, we originally planned on going to church. We then realized that that would be a very limited demographic that maybe would not give us the broader points of view we were looking for. We went to downtown Bennington hoping to find people out on a sunday. We went into the Stewarts on upper main street, hoping to find some people there. We talked to one guy who was buying coffee. We introduced ourselves, and asked him what his impression of us was. He just talked about Bennington College being “really nice” and high rated. He seemed very uncomfortable, and eager to end our interaction. When we left the Stewart’s we realized a better way to engage with strangers would be when they were trying to pass the time - so we tried talking to people while they were pumping gas. We met Becky this way - she used to work at the college and loved it! She catered events, but had to stop after a car crash that left her unable to walk. She didn’t have anything to say about us other than that we seemed nice. She was VERY friendly, and told us we should go to Dunkin Donuts to talk to people. We followed her advice, and went to Dunkin Donuts. We sat at the communal table with a group of SVC freshmen. Again, we introduced ourselves and asked what their first impression of us was. There were two girls and three boys, and we mostly talked to the girls. They said we were polite, nice, unique looking, and they liked our hair. They also seemed very uncomfortable. We tried to press them for more information, but they didn’t have anything else they wanted to say. We then talked to two 14 year olds who just started high school. They also thought we were nice. They were the most talkative, and seemed to like us. We prefaced our questions by saying that we wouldn’t be offended by anything they had to say, but their answers remained polite and acceptable. One girl said she didn’t know what to say because she didn’t like to judge people by their appearance or what they wore - but if we wanted to find judgy people we should go to their high school! After that we went to Cumberland Farms to try our gas pumping approach one more time. We met a man who asked if we were college students. He said that we seemed nice and outgoing, and he was fairly willing to engage in conversation. We wonder if had we approached an older demographic we would have got more straightforward or opinionated answer. We found it interesting that even though every person we spoke with seemed very uncomfortable, they all said we were nice. No one verbally expressed any annoyance or unease, although it is likely they were feeling those things.

20 Dollars

For this assignment, I raised 20 dollars by cutting peoples hair. I cut 5 people's hair, and charged between 3-5 dollars per haircut.