Art in Service: Quality

Maggie Cavallo wrestles with the thorny issue of addressing quality in socially engaged art in this guest post, the third in our four-part series Art in Service with Big Red & Shiny and Alter Projects.

Since 2013 I’ve been focused - educatively, academically, artistically - on ‘socially-engaged art’ and the idea of learning in public. Over the course of the last ten years, I’ve grown to understand the the site of my own work (as a curator, educator, artist and communit(ies)y member) as the space between art and audience. The social and ideological role of art and its institutions and the learning experiences of art viewers have guided this work, while curatorial practices, pedagogy and performance have continued to inform it. Coming to terms with the social qualities of my own practice, one taking place primarily within sites and networks of art, had offered me some perspective on how to critique such practices. 

True to form, when invited to co-produce a series of texts on socially-engaged art with Big, Red & Shiny and Now + There, I was struck with my usual impulses - I was sincerely grateful, I asked “why us?”,  “what is the strategy?”, “how much time do we have?” and “who is the audience?”.

Continue reading on Big Red & Shiny.

Image: Lowe (Rick Lowe and the Young Mothers Residential Program.  Courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.)