News – PSU Art & Social Practice

Eric Steen Awarded Outstanding Instructor of the Year

Eric Steen, alumni of the Art & Social Practice concentration at PSU, was awarded Outstanding Instructor of the year in the Letters, Arts & Sciences college at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. The prestigious award was given to only two instructors out of a total of twenty departments in the college. The award was based on recommendations from colleagues, students, and after class-visits from committee members. Eric has taught community based and socially engaged art classes at the university for three years and began his teaching career as Faculty of Record while a grad student at PSU.

CounterCraft: PSU Art and Social Practice in Residence at MoCC

How can we expand the definition of craft to include artists, makers, hackers, and do-ers, who are less visible? From the marginal to the illicit, how can exploring these clandestine craft practices help examine society, culture, and ourselves?

From the Lab at MoCC, the MFA students of PSU’s Art and Social Practice program will explore these questions through an ongoing series of programs, workshops, and events. The concept of CounterCraft will become the foundation for this unique residency partnering PSU and PNCA in dialogue in conjunction with 2013 Open Engagement.

By defining counter as outside the mainstream, we aim to highlight: firstly, counter-publics engaged in craft practices; and secondly, the making and distribution of counter-craft objects. CounterCraft seeks to explore processes and materials ranging from the utilitarian to the destructive, and interrogate concepts of social, cultural, political, and economic value related to this diverse representation of “crafters” and their crafts.


Thursday April 11, 6:30-8pm, The Lab at MoCC:
Workshop: The Botanical Craft of Attraction, organized by Heather Donahue and Sarah McLaughlin

Saturday April 27, 3-5pm, The Lab at MoCC:

Workshop: The Silk Road Marketplace and the Craft of the Deep Net, organized by Travis Neel

Tuesday April 30, 5:30-7:30pm, The Lab at MoCC:

Workshop: Bike Theft Storytelling and Theft Site Identification, organized by Zach Gough and Erin Charpentier

Thursday May 9, 6:30-8pm, The Lab at MoCC:

Panel Discussion: Crafting Conversation to Get What You Want: Art and Social Practice and the Art of the Ask featuring Harrell Fletcher, MK Guth, and Ariana Jacob, organized and moderated by Jen Delos Reyes

Saturday May 11, 1-3pm, The Lab at MoCC:

Drop-in-and-Make: May is Family Month, organized by Sharita Towne and Betty Marin

Friday May 17, 4-6pm, The Upper Gallery at MoCC:

Visiting Artist: Juna Rosales Muller presents Mending Patriotism, organized by Erin Charpentier

Tuesday May 21, 6:30-8pm, The Lab at MoCC:

Visiting Artist: Shani Peters presents Crafting Counter Histories: The Art of Counter Storytelling, organized and presented in collaboration with Sharita Towne

Saturday May 25, 3-5pm, The Lab at MoCC:

Workshop: Nail Craft, organized by Betty Marin and Grace Hwang

Saturday June 1, 3-5pm, The Lab at MoCC:

Workshop: Lost Craft, organized by Betty Marin and Patricia Vasquez

Introducing: The Art and Social Practice Workbook

 An exhibition featuring the Art and Social Practice Workbook; an edited volume of assignments from students, faculty,visiting artists, and alumni of Portland State University’s Art and Social Practice MFA Program. Visitors of the exhibition will be able to assemble their own workbook from printouts of the text designed by students of the program, Erin Charpentier and Travis Neel. Visitors will also be invited to submit their own assignments for possible use in the workbook. This exhibition will accompany a lecture by Professor and Co-director of the program Jen Delos Reyes, regarding the topic of education and Art and Social Practice. Also on display, a collective bibliography and relevant framing questions by Paul Ramirez-Jonas, a visiting professor in the program.

Participating Artists:

Erin Charpentier

Jen Delos Reyes

Heather Donahue

Fallen Fruit

Farm School

Harrell Fletcher

Zachary Gough

Alexi Hudon

Grace Hwang

Betty Marin

Mario Mesquita

Adam Moser

Travis Neel

Carmen Papalia

Douglas Paulson

Paul Ramirez Jonas

Sean Schumacher

Alysha Shaw

Molly Sherman

Temporary Services


Lexa Walsh

Caroline Woolard

The exhibition will run from March 20 – April 7 at Civic Space in Windsor, ON.

The lecture will take place on March 21 at 12pm at the School of Arts and Creative Innovation, University of Windsor.

On View at Field Work: Community Advice by Susan O’Malley

Susan O’Malley interviewed a few shy of 100 people in Palo Alto for this project. She asked: What advice would you give your 8-year-old self? What advice would you give your 80-year-old self? Using the words of those she met, she designed ten different letterpress posters. Sometimes the poster text is verbatim from the interview; other times she conflated several people’s advice into one. In addition to hanging the works in the opening exhibition at the Palo Alto Art Center, these posters were installed along Embarcadero Road in Palo Alto for passersby to see.

For this exhibition of the work at Field Work, the Art and Social Practice MFA program has displayed these pieces of advice in their neighborhood. The posters are displayed in the windows of Field Work, as well as in the windows of nearby organizations and businesses.

For more information on the project visit:


In her socially-based art practice, Susan O’Malley uses simple and recognizable tools of engagement – offering Pep Talks, asking for advice from strangers, installing roomfuls of inspirational posters, distributing flyers in neighborhood mailboxes, conducting doodle competitions at high schools – in order to offer entry points into the understood, and sometimes humorous, interactions of everyday life. Interested in shifting these otherwise mundane exchanges into heightened experiences, O’Malley’s projects rely on the backand- forth between herself and others in the creation of the artwork. Ultimately O’Malley’s projects aspire to incite hope, optimism and a sense of interconnectedness in our lives.

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, O’Malley received her MFA from California College of the Arts’ Social Practice Area. As both an artist and curator, she has participated in programs and exhibitions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and internationally in Denmark and Poland.

Field Research: Living the Dream

When you have to pinch yourself multiple times in a day to check if you’re awake, it’s a sure sign you’re living the dream. 

Today started early, with a committed group of PDX students attending a serene hour of Yoga led by teacher in training, Nikki.  None of us would have believed it was her first class teaching, we were so calm. 


A quick check-in with our classmates afar, then we headed downtown to the Museum of Contemporary Craft to meet with curator Sarah Margolis-Pineo to discuss our residency there leading up to Open Engagement.  



Then we had Lunch. (Some of us went to Little Big Burger for junk food, and others to Yogapearl for health food).  


The first of our afternoon meetings was at the new space of the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art.  There we were greeted by Visual Art Curator Kristan Kennedy.  We spoke with her about two related opportunities. The first was possibility to use PICA’s space for programming for Open Engagement, which we graciously accepted.  The second order of business was to talk about the possibility of our program curating an artist in residence in the resource centre. It looks like we’ll be artists in residence there starting somewhere near April 1st, 2013.  


Last on our day of amazing Field Trips was a visit with Justin Harn the director of programming and community engagement at the Hollywood Theatre.  Justin is so rad and really excited to collaborate with the program. He gave us a tour of the Theatre and talked about some of the past engaged programming that has happened at the theatre.  
This evening Fieldwork coordinators Erin Charpentier and Travis Neel are hosting the Neighbourhood Association meeting at FieldWork.  
An exciting day in Portland for the Art and Social Practice MFA….



See for Yourself: the work of Carmen Papalia

Carmen Papalia makes participatory projects that investigate individual access with regard to public space, the Art institution and visual culture. He produces temporary solutions in the form of walking tours, workshops, public interventions, museum projects and art objects. His work engages participants in embracing disability experience as a productive way of being.The Blind Field Shuttle, a non-visual walking tour in which Papalia leads up to 50 participants through urban and rural spaces, has been shown at the Canter Fitzgerald Gallery at Haverford College, at Pro Arts in Oakland and at Gallery Gachet in Vancouver. Papalia was recently awarded a solo exhibition for emerging artists by the CUE Foundation in NYC. His upcoming projects include programming at the Purple Thistle Center and a performance at the Grand Central Art Center in which he will map a walking route with the help of a marching band.

Join us on Friday, November 30 for a talk in which Carmen Papalia, MFA candidate in Art & Social Practice at PSU, will share his approach in creating solidarity around the goals of the Disability political movement through the production of participatory socially-engaged Art.

See for Yourself
Friday, November 30, 2012
Project Grow (2124 N. Williams Ave.)
6:00PM – 8:00PM

Bad at Sports interviews from Open Engagement 2012

Bad at Sports has started posting their interviews from Open Engagement.

Check it out:

Paul Ramirez Intensive

This past week, adjunct faculty member and artist in residence at the Portland Art Museum, Paul Ramirez Jonas, came to Portland to lead us in a three day intensive.

The purpose of the intensive was to collectively develop a curatorial statement for Shine a Light 2013, an annual collaboration between the Portland Art Museum and the PSU Art and Social Practice MFA program. Every year for Shine a Light, MFA students host a collection of projects that enable museum goers to engage with the art and the museum itself in unconventional ways.   

The intensive was structured around ideas of the museum as site-specific, time-specific, and people-specific.  

We read a number of articles from a variety of thinkers including Tom Finkelpearl, Miwon Kwon, Claire Bishop, and Jurgen Habermas.  We also read sections of Disenchanted Night a book by Wolfgang Schivelbusch that chronicles the effects of artificial light on our relationship to the night.  

Perhaps the highlight of the intensive was an excursion in which a dozen of us explored the city on foot and bicycle ‘observing the night’.  We split up and met back at the museum and compared notes until about 11.30 pm. 

SAVE THE DATE: Sine a Light Friday, May 17th, 2013.

Expo Chicago



From September 19-23, 2012 the Hyde Park Art Center will host Jen Delos Reyes and the Center for Art and Social Practice at Expo Chicago where they will present, “Selling It.” The Center for Art and Social Practice is directed by Jen Delos Reyes and was developed out of PSU’s Art and Social Practice MFA program. “Selling It” is an extension of and precursor to the Center for Art and Social Practice the Center which Delos Reyes will bring to the Hyde Park Art Center the summer of 2013. “Selling It” provides representation for artists who have created socially engaged work from across the country at the fair exploring of the place and role of socially engaged art in a market system.

Who and what is represented and how if the work is not primarily by nature object based? How can these practices be financially viable? Are there alternate funding sources to support this kind of work that can come from the market system? How are artists, participants and collaborators compensated, or not?

The Center for Art and Social Practice addresses the need for the support of research, consulting, presentations/interventions, and public programming within the field of art and social practice. The Center is dedicated to the idea that artists can develop and utilize their own artistic skills to engage in society and their own communities, as well as hold the mission of serving as a hub that fosters dialogues between artists and institutions invested in this way of working.

Represented artists and projects included at Expo:

Harrell Fletcher

Lee Walton

Lori Gordon

Ariana Jacob

Crystal Baxley

Songs on Conceptual Art

Art, jokes, and social engagement in Mexico

original article on PSU Institute for Sustainable Solutions blog:

This March, I was able to attend a three-week residency at the Guapamacátaro Center for Art and Ecology in Mexico with a travel grant from the Institute for Sustainable Solutions. The Guapamacátaro residency is centered in an old hacienda, a few kilometers away from the town of Maravatío, Michoacán. It is organized by Mexican artist and curator Alicia Marván.

The participants of the session were primarily artists who had interests and experience in other disciplines (such as agriculture and education), and who had specific concerns with the intersection of art, the environment, and the local community. Days at Guapamacátaro were structured organically, allowing for work to develop within the confines of the hacienda, or to interface with the surrounding community.

“Se vende chistes/Se compra chistes” Dillon de Give explored the culture of Michoacán, Mexico by asking locals to tell him a joke.

Agricultural production forms the basis of the local economy. Surrounding land is rich in natural resources, and is famous for producing avocados. Because of this, issues of land ownership, land usage/management, water rights, and the legacy of the power relationships left over from the hacienda system are ever-present. However, the larger political system in place is not often responsive to the subtleties of these issues.

Such systematic problems were discussed at length among the group. However, the focus of my work occurred on a smaller, more intimate scale. It began with a recognition of my incomplete knowledge of Spanish and a desire to understand more. I considered the idea that humor is perhaps the subtlest expression of a language. With this, I decided to go on a series of long walking trips. Along the way, I simply asked people if they would tell me a chiste,  a joke. Though I rarely “got it” these interactions served as a way to get a sense of the local temperament and to share in a moment I might not have otherwise participated in. I filmed people telling their jokes, and will use the footage as the basis of a new work.

Michoacán school children participating in an after school program with artists from Guapamacátaro.

In addition to this project, I was able to contribute to several collaborative projects that emerged from the cohort, including an after school activity group with students from a local elementary school, and the establishment of a vegetable garden, complete with a fence made from tulé (a locally invasive water plant). At the end of the residency, the community was invited to an opening in which the results of our work were displayed and discussed. About 25 people from the surrounding area came, some of who brought their children.

The residency allowed me to make professional contacts with people who share my concerns regarding art, the environment, and social engagement. I was also able to use the experience as a case study to examine how art can function in a context radically different from my own, and to develop the seeds for investigation into an artistic theme I will continue to explore.

P. Dillon de Give is a New York City based artist. He will soon hold an MFA in Art and Social Practice from Portland State University. You can see some of the jokes that Dillon collected at

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