01/06/2014 - 14/07/2014

José Carlos Teixeira, from The Fall, 2012.


National conference on socially engaged art, with Shannon Jackson as keynote, November 6–8, 2014. 


Proposal deadline: July 14, 2014


What does it mean in contemporary art and design to be socially engaged? Are we talking about art that resists the conventional structures of the art world and reimagines a new, unwieldy public sphere of social activism in the face of media spectacle and profit motives? Or can social practices in art reconcile aesthetic focus with external forces or agencies with regard for communities, perhaps affecting a timely catalyst for change? The recent spate of publications on what has been variously called community-based art, participatory art, collaborative art, relational art, social practice or socially engaged art, indicates that such questions have provoked a variety of studies that intellectually tackle what Shannon Jackson has noted as the « social turn. »

This conference, « Unruly Engagements: On the Social Turn in Contemporary Art and Design, » proposes to examine various approaches to social practices in both art and design in an effort to understand the concepts, terms, and varieties of engagement of the past two decades or so. Among our primary objectives is to facilitate public discourse on the feasibility of interventionist projects in art and design in urban environments, with special attention to « rust-belt » cities like Cleveland.

We invite presentations of conventional and unorthodox forms from artists, designers, and scholars on the topic. Prospective participants may submit proposals for short papers or examine specific works or activities that address the questions as noted. Suggested related themes may include but are not limited to:

–Socially engaged art and the new public sphere

–Artists as activists: voices from the Great Lakes region

–Historical precedents and present strategies of social practice

–Urban design and design in the city as force for change

–Aesthetics, ethics and politics

–Student agency and society: 21st-century visions of the art school


Please submit PDF-formatted abstracts of no more than 650 words, along with letter of interest and CV to Gary Sampson and José Carlos Teixeira, unrulyengagements(at)cia.edu. Conference schedule and registration details will be posted in early autumn. « Unruly Engagements » is a key component of Community Works: Artist as Social Agent, CIA’s yearlong commitment to exploring social agency and the visual arts. The deadline for proposals is July 14.


About Shannon Jackson

Shannon Jackson is the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair in the Arts and Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is Professor of Rhetoric and of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies. She is also the Director of the Arts Research Center. Professor Jackson was recently selected to receive a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation fellowship for 2014–15. Her most recent book is Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics (Routledge, 2011), and she is working on a book about The Builders Association. Her previous books are Lines of Activity: Performance, Historiography, and Hull-House Domesticity (2000) and Professing Performance: Theatre in the Academy from Philology to Performativity (2004).


About Cleveland Institute of Art

Founded in 1882, the Cleveland Institute of Art is an accredited, independent college of art and design offering 15 majors in studio art, digital art, craft disciplines, and design. CIA extends its programming to the public through gallery exhibitions; lectures; a robust continuing education program; and the Cinematheque, a year-round art and independent film program. For more information visit cia.edu / 11141 East Boulevard, Cleveland, OH 44106.

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