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Social Practice vs Studio Practice

As the director of SlideRoom, I have a unique point of view on trends in the arts: contests, grants, education, etc … One interesting trend I am seeing in West Coast Art schools is creating different educational tracks for Studio Practice and Social Practice. Two schools that are doing this include California College of Arts and Portland State.
For example, CCA defines the following:
– Studio Practice track = "gaining a deeper understanding of their own artistic ideas and vision …  while developing
the individual skills that students need to pursue careers in the visual
– Social Practice track = "larger interdisciplinary program
that incorporates art strategies as diverse as urban interventions,
utopian proposals, guerrilla architecture, "new genre" public
art, social sculpture, project-based community practice, interactive
media, service dispersals, and street performance. This concentration
incorporates a more enhanced focus on preparing students to conceive
projects, articulate narratives that support them, and cultivate a network
of fellow practitioners and supporting institutions.
I like this. Why? Because it eases a tension. The tension I often observe in schools is that the faculty (often studio oriented) get canabalized by newer faculty/admins that prefer Social Practices. And when curriculum begins to treat studio practice as something to be replaced, problems occur.
The two disciplines really are different (in goals and practice), and so I like honoring the merits of each by treating them separately. While I am personally more interested in Visual Art,  it’s a big world, and there is room for both.

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