Why Art Schools Need More Socially Engaged Art

Image: Social Practice Kitchen, a weekly student-led by-donation community kitchen at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. SPK invites students, staff, and faculty to create meals. Photo: Facebook/Arts in Society Research Network.

Canadian Art recently posted an essay I wrote over the summer, which you can read in its entirety here. I’m including an excerpt below:

Despite Canada’s history of artist-run culture and modest socialism—both productive contexts for thinking about where larger social imaginations have existed at a national scale in the past—our post-secondary institutions have yet to find meaningful ways to position socially engaged art as a practice befitting the needs of artists, students and citizens in the here and now. Post-secondary art institutions have also had very little to say so far about the significant histories of care, stewardship and collectivity embedded into the tenets of communities that blossom outside of the hegemony of white patriarchal capitalist centres. Instead, art schools relegate socially engaged art to minors, streams or one-off courses maintained as a peripheral concern to the “real work” of training emerging artists, designers and cultural producers.