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Project Third 2020-Present

Pratt Fine Arts’ Project Third (P3)

Decolonial Art and Design Pedagogies

depiction of medicines in history
Photo by Nadia McLaren

Decolonial Art and Design Pedagogies is a series of events that propose decolonial, alternative, and radical pedagogical models for education, starting with a focus on Indigenous pedagogies at the intersection with art education, social practice, and performance art. P3 features an array of programming focused on Indigenous epistemologies, pedagogies, research, community practice, and performance art via a series of lectures, an artist’s residence, conversations, workshops, performances, and student engagements. 

Decolonial Art and Design Pedagogies was conceived to demonstrate how the recognition and implementation of Indigenous epistemologies and pedagogies may lead to promoting a culture of radical social and political inclusion for Indigenous peoples (and for society at large), a process of developing awareness around Indigenous sovereignty; and demonstrating how performance art and social practice, approached from a pedagogical perspective, may activate social engagement, address social injustice and inequity, and lead to processes of social change on the Pratt campus and beyond.

While considering the history of this territory we ask: What constitutes knowledge, knowledge production, and decolonial approaches to pedagogy approached through the lens of an Indigenous framework within Pratt Institute? 

In order to tackle this question Project Third (P3) seeks to introduce decolonial approaches to art and art education based on Indigenous knowledges, local histories, art, and histories of settlement that allow for cross-disciplinary dialogue; led by Indigenous artists, academics, and activists.

By acknowledging Indigenous lands and sovereignty at Pratt and initiating a conversation that thus far remains largely absent at the Institute, we can begin to engage in a self-reflexive process around our pedagogical models and start to implement decolonial approaches to: 

  • —diversify our pedagogical approaches;
  • —provide institutional support and space for Indigenous cultural producers to create programs —involving students, administration, staff, and faculty; 
  • —start to diversify Pratt Institute by reaching out to Indigenous student applicants; 
  • —eventually hire Indigenous faculty and staff; 
  • —promote Indigenous perspectives on land and sustainability that support Pratt’s divestment plan.

Decolonial Art & Design Pedagogies is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Fine Arts Department, Film/Video Department, Art and Design Education, Center for Teaching and Learning, Franklin Furnace Archive, Performance and Performance Studies, and Social Science, and Cultural Studies’s The Global South Center, amongst others.

Project Coordinators
Carlos Motta, Associate Professor, Fine Arts
Heather Lewis, Professor, Art and Design Education


Project Third (P3) 2024

Shawn Wilson
Research Is Ceremony

Lecture: Thursday, February 22, 2024, 6:30pm
Alumni Reading Room, Pratt’s Brooklyn campus
Workshop: Friday, February 23, 2024, for Pratt students only

graphic displaying a drawing of a night sky, with star formations moving in almost a circle
Image by Carina Nilsson

Shawn Wilson invites the Pratt community to consider how our worldviews inform the ways we approach our shared work, the ways we learn together, and the systems we rely on to validate our efforts.

Shawn Wilson is a knowledge keeper and knowledge seeker, committed to revitalizing traditional methodologies and practices. His book, Research Is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods, lays out a community-based approach to learning.  By critically engaging the dominant structures embedded in academia, Wilson offers a decolonial perspective on what is worth learning, why, and how.  Wilson is Opaskwayak Cree from northern Manitoba, and is currently Associate Professor of Indigenous Studies at the University of British Columbia.

This event is organized by Bethany Ides (HMS) and Project Third (P3)
Supported by Pratt’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


Project Third (P3) 2023

Nadia McLaren
Working in the Discomfort of Decolonization: Towards Institutional Transformation

Presentation: Thursday, April 27,6-8pm
Workshop: Friday, April 28, 12-3pm
East Reading Room, Pratt Library 2nd floor through the CTL office

wood floor with large bird
Photo by Nadia McLaren

Nadia McLaren
—formerly the Educational Developer (Indigenous Learning) at  Ontario College of Art and Design—is coming to Pratt on April 27 and 28 to share her work on decolonizing the art and design curriculum and lead us in a workshop which will help us collectively share and revise Project Third’s (P3) Living Set of Principles for Decolonizing Art and Design Education.

There is no question that decolonizing art and design education is a vital process. It can lead to a greater sense of wellness to the many facets and communities of art and design, nurture respectful relationships with Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island and contribute immensely to the healing of all. Yet, for those of us doing the “work,” we often find ourselves facing many barriers while uncomfortable truths are being revealed within the very systems we’ve committed much of our work and lives to. And simultaneously, we are learning that a personal journey of unlearning is needed as well. In short, a lot of Humility is required.

In this presentation and discussion, Nadia McLaren will lead us towards a deeper understanding of Decolonization and speak to the often unspoken emotional labor involved. She extends an invitation to all to embrace the discomfort, as it is “evidence” that the work is getting done well. 

Nadia McLaren is Anishnaabe Kwe (Bear Clan) and mixed-ancestry whose family story is rooted in Biigtigong FN, Pic River, located on the North Shore of Lake Superior. She grew up in small towns across Northwestern Ontario and calls Sioux Lookout home. Nadia is a mother of two, a Drawing and Painting graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design University and brings to her work deep knowledge and experience in the areas of Indigenous community wellness, pedagogy, professional development, meaningful community engagement and relationship building.


After Images

Lecture and Conversation with Professor Carlos Motta:
Tuesday 4/18, 6:30pm, Higgins Hall Auditorium, open to the public

Workshop: Tuesdays 4/11 and 4/18 from 9:30-12:20 pm
For Pratt students only

photo of a open hand with the index finger bent
Photo by SJ Norman

SJ Norman draws upon a diverse range of movement forms and embodiment methodologies that have formed the basis of his own performance practice and continue to support his work as an Indigenous, transgender artist living with multiple disabilities. What generative or liberatory potentials might be activated through an intentional turn away from signification, towards the field of our inward perceptions?  How do our innate forms and movement pathways- perceptible at the level of refined, subtle-body awareness- counterbalance the forms imposed on us? How might attenuate our awareness of the body’s sovereign interiority resource us for political and creative resiliency?

SJ Norman is a multi-disciplinary artist, author and cultural organizer based in Lenapehoking (New York City). His practice has spanned two decades and embraced a diversity of disciplines, including durational performance, choreography, sculpture, installation and spatial practice, video, sound and text.


Project Third 2022

Since 2022 Project Third (P3) has been drafting a Living Set of Principles for Art and Design Education in collaboration with many colleagues throughout the Institute.



We believe that decolonization needs to be addressed if we are to create a truly inclusive, safer, and equitable Institute that attracts students and faculty of diverse backgrounds and supports the creative and academic empowerment of all individuals alike. This work is a vital expression of Pratt’s DEI efforts as expressed in the Strategic Plan and meaningfully grounds efforts in civic engagement, social design, social practice, and social change. We acknowledge and recognize the work done by The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in this regard.

During the past two years, a group of faculty and staff have been meeting regularly to think about what decolonization might look like at Pratt and to take steps in that direction. Organized by Fine Arts’ Project Third (P3) and funded through Pratt Strategic Funding (2020-2021), Decolonial Art Pedagogies organized workshops and public events led by Indigenous artists, activists, and scholars organized by Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) and held monthly meetings for interested faculty and staff. 

Since then, both our thinking and our questions have deepened in terms of what decolonial futures we believe are possible at Pratt. We decided to start with a set of principles similar to some of the other art and design schools in North America. We realize that to develop principles that are iterative and ongoing, we need an inclusive process. This is the beginning of the process. We realize this is going to take time and requires an authentic, democratic dialogue. 


Decolonization is the unsettling process of acknowledging and dismantling colonial ideologies and structures that uphold white supremacy and racial capitalism. Decolonization recenters Black, Indigenous, and Peoples of Color (BIPOC) lives, modes of sensing, being and relating. Ultimately, decolonization brings about the repatriation of Indigenous land and reparations for historical and continuing injustices. We recognize that colonialism created transnational networks that reproduced visual and embodied ideologies and transported free and enslaved people, technologies, and resources across the oceans and the Americas, resulting in ontological ruptures. We are laboring within an institution that is composed of eurocentric hierarchical systems, structures, epistemologies, and ontologies that are oppressive by design and that automatically privilege certain bodies and identities over others. The ongoing labor of decolonization is the responsibility of all students, faculty, and staff at Pratt Institute.


– Pratt Institute is situated on Lenapehoking, the traditional and unceded homeland of the Lenape people, past, present, and future. Over the past two years, students, faculty, and staff in the Pratt community have been working in collaboration with facilitators from the Lenape Center to craft a formal acknowledgment of the Institute’s presence on Native American land. We urge a commitment to its principles and its use in as many contexts as possible. 

– Pratt Institute is a predominantly white institution located in a historically black—now gentrifying—neighborhood undergoing rapid displacement. Pratt must not continue to be complicit in this process and take a proactive role to support long-time BIPOC residents, as well as advocate for future-building, reparative policies and practices. 

– Pratt’s living land acknowledgement must be realized through institutional and structural accountability and culture. 


– Given that aesthetics and effects are significant social forces, we will work to collectively reorient aesthetic materials, particularly those created by BIPOC, queer, trans, and differently-abled peoples, engaging narratives and experiences from the epistemological margins. 

– We will support and sustain unlearning and relearning as integral to the process of restorative justice.

– Pratt must continually work to hire and support current and future Indigenous and other BIPOC faculty and staff and to revise institutional standards of just labor practices and promotion. 

– Pratt must continually work to attract and support current and future Indigenous and other BIPOC students through financial aid, mentorship, institutional structures, student organizational agency, and responsive teaching and learning structures. 

– We will build relationships with other art and design schools, colleges, and universities and encourage community conversations beyond Pratt.


– We invite ease, pleasure, creativity, and play to this work. We believe sustainable, transdisciplinary, non-hierarchical integrated practices are at the heart of decolonizing the curriculum.

– We aim to develop long-term, equitable, and reciprocal partnerships with Indigenous and other BIPOC groups, leaders, artists, and designers, paying these experts for their labor and creating platforms to foreground their histories, knowledge, and values. We consider these community partnerships extremely valuable as we imagine a more inclusive future for the Institute led by BIPOC colleagues.


This principle is in formation, and therefore, the following notes are meant to be a guide for discussion:

Honor the Way of the Circle:

  • Collaborate with respect, reciprocity, relationships, and responsibility (wholistic theory based on ancient knowledge
  • Bring generosity to the table. 
  • Recognize and honor emotional labor
  • Develop ways to enter into the work through welcoming and nurturing
  • Recognize that if the community is changing, the leadership will have to change.
  • Create a culture of care through our pedagogy and critique
  • Acknowledge and call out power dynamics
  • Act with humility and non-competitiveness

Ask Ourselves: 

  • From whose lens are we defining teaching?
  • What does learning look like? What does teaching look like?
  • How can we be transparent and be explicit in our communications about the teaching process and who is involved?
  • Who is evaluating who? Do they have the eyes to see?
  • How can we be better allies and teachers?
  • Who is not in the room? 
  • How do we create culturally safe spaces and processes (critique)?
  • How do we balance caring with discomfort and making mistakes?
  • How do we make the curriculum more holistic?


Project Third 2021

Fall Forum: A Collaboration with Pratt’s Center for Teaching & Learning and Project Third (P3), Fine Arts: Decolonial Art & Design Pedagogies

Friday September 24: 9am – 4:30pm
Saturday September 25: 10am – 12:30pm

flyer for event

The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and Project Third (P3), Fine Arts: Decolonial Art & Design Pedagogies present the Fall Forum 2021: Pedagogies of Reparation and Rebuilding featuring several ongoing collaborative initiatives—currently underway within Pratt — concerned with implementing and developing pedagogies of reparation and rebuilding. The Forum will gather members of the Pratt community for two days of discussion aimed at expanding notions of education and equity, from classroom dynamics to systems of governance and administration, from archiving histories to BIPOC and queer-driven projects of radical inclusion and participation. Presenters will share ideas and practices for promoting equitable learning opportunities through decolonial approaches to an inclusive curriculum and pedagogy. Raising critical questions about how to respond to the myriad crises which were laid bare—once again—by the COVID19 pandemic and their effects within Pratt, the Forum features sessions that consider repairing or rebuilding learning environments, institutional structures, and social politics through the lenses of race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, gender, and disability. To deemphasize traditional conference presentations, the Fall Forum presents mostly collective endeavors. “Collective” means collaborations among faculty, within a department, across departments, between staff, faculty, and students, or engagements beyond Pratt.

Program, participants, and session details here


Laura Ortman
Wild Walks Sing

Live Performance: Thursday, October 7, 6pm, Dekalb Gallery
Duration: 45 minutes
Also available online at Pratt Fine Arts’s Instagram Live: @prattfineart

Woman playing violin, wearing black dress, with hair coming down her face in the foreground, with large mountain range in the background

Wild Walks Sing is a customized 35-minute performance for amplified violin, field recordings, and megaphone. A soloist and vibrant collaborator, Laura Ortman (White Mountain Apache) works across recorded albums, live performances, and filmic and artistic soundtracks. An inquisitive and exquisite violinist, Ortman is versed in Apache violin, piano, electric guitar, keyboards, and pedal steel guitar, often sings through a megaphone, and is a producer of capacious field recordings. She has performed at The Whitney Museum of American Art and The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Toronto BIennial in Ontario, the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris, among countless established and DIY venues in the US, Canada, and Europe.


Jackson Polys

Manifest Excess

Artist Talk: Thursday, April 15, 6pm, Online

art installation with statue on red and white circular rug
The New Red Order, Toronto Biennial, 2019, courtesy of the artists

Jackson Polys examines paths of interdisciplinary work that target aporias formed by desiring indigeneity — confronting expectations of arts imperative to ingest and overstep,  to navigate often conflicting urges toward the decolonial appeal.

A multi-disciplinary artist belonging to Tlingit territory, Jackson Polys lives and works between what are currently called Alaska and New York, who examines negotiations toward the limits and viability of desires for Indigenous growth. He holds an MFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University where he has since taught.  He was the recipient of a 2017 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Mentor Artist Fellowship. He is a core contributor to the New Red Order (NRO).  His individual and collaborative works have appeared at the Alaska State Museum, Anchorage Museum, Artists Space, Burke Museum, eflux, HKW Berlin, Images Festival, MIT, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Museum of Modern Art, Park Avenue Armory, Sundance Film Festival, Union Docs, the 2019 Toronto Biennial of Art, Walker Art Center and the Whitney Museum of American Art, including the Whitney Biennial 2019.


Laura Ortman
Woods That Sings 

Artist Talk: Monday, March 15, 7pm, Online

performance in front of large window panes, with audience taking pictures in foreground
Photo courtesy of Laura Ortman

Laura Ortman recollects highlights of the endless entwinement of her immersive music and art worlds as an innovative soloist, composer, and vibrant collaborator. 

A soloist and vibrant collaborator, Laura Ortman (White Mountain Apache) works across recorded albums, live performances, and filmic and artistic soundtracks. An inquisitive and exquisite violinist, Ortman is versed in Apache violin, piano, electric guitar, keyboards, and pedal steel guitar, often sings through a megaphone, and is a producer of capacious field recordings. She has performed at The Whitney Museum of American Art and The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Toronto BIennial in Ontario, the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris, among countless established and DIY venues in the US, Canada, and Europe.


Project Third 2020

Kinstillations, Consent, and Resistance
A Dialogue with Emily Johnson, Joseph M. Pierce, Karyn Recollet, and Susan Blight

Friday, November 20, 11am-1pm, Online 

A dialogue between four writers, scholars, artists, and body movers, this gathering will focus on sharing orientations towards the kinstillatory. Drawing on Indigenous feminisms, the work of queer and two-spirit kin, and the constellations of consenting intimacy that span across ruptures of time and space, this conversation will explore recent work by Recollet and Johnson, Pierce, and Blight, together, in dialogue about what futures become possible through Indigenous practices of transformation and resistance. 

How do we gather now, in this moment, and at the same time include our more-than-human-kin in consensual acts of change? How do we enact co-presence and co-corporeality, as both an emergent possibility and a series of interventions grounded in ancestral futurity?

headshot of Emily Johnson

Emily Johnson (Yup’ik Nation) is an artist who makes body-based work. She is a land and water protector and an activist for justice, sovereignty and well-being. A Bessie Award-winning choreographer, Guggenheim Fellow and recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award, she is based in Lenapehoking / New York City. Emily is of the Yup’ik Nation, and since 1998 has created work that considers the experience of sensing and seeing performance. Her dances function as portals and care processions, they engage audienceship within and through space, time, environment, and place. Emily is trying to make a world where performance is part of life; where performance is an integral connection to each other, our environment, our stories, our past, present and future. Emily hosts monthly ceremonial fires on Mannahatta in partnership with Abrons Arts Center and Karyn Recollet. She was a co-compiler of the document, Creating New Futures: Guidelines for Ethics and Equity in the Performing Arts and is part of an advisory group, with Reuben Roqueni, Ed Bourgeois, Lori Pourier, Ronee Penoi, and Vallejo Gantner – developing a Global First Nations Performance Network.

headshot of Joseph M. Pierce

Joseph M. Pierce (Cherokee Nation) is Associate Professor in the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literature at Stony Brook University. His research focuses on the intersections of kinship, gender, sexuality, and race in Latin America, 19th century literature and culture, queer studies, Indigenous studies, and hemispheric approaches to citizenship and belonging. He is the author of Argentine Intimacies: Queer Kinship in an Age of Splendor, 1890-1910 (SUNY Press, 2019) and co-editor of Políticas del amor: Derechos sexuales y escrituras disidentes en el Cono Sur (Cuarto Propio, 2018) as well as the forthcoming special issue of GLQ, “Queer/Cuir Américas: Translation, Decoloniality, and the Incommensurable.” Along with SJ Norman (Koori, Wiradjuri descent) he is co-curator of the performance series Knowledge of Wounds.

headshot of Karyn Recollet

Karyn Recollet (Cree, born in Sturgeon Lake First Nation, SK, Canada; lives in Toronto, ON, Canada) is an urban Cree scholar/artist/and writer whose work focuses on relationality and care as both an analytic and technology for Indigenous movement-based forms of inquiry within urban spaces. Recollet works collaboratively with Indigenous dance-makers and scholars to theorize forms of urban glyphing. Recollet is in conversation with dance choreographers, Black and Indigenous futurist thinkers and Indigenous and Black geographers as ways to theorize and activate futurist, feminist, celestial and decolonial landing relationships with more-than-human kinships, and each other.

Headshot of Susan Blight

Susan Blight (Anishinaabe, Couchiching First Nation) is an interdisciplinary artist working with public art, site-specific intervention, photography, film and social practice. Her solo and collaborative work engages questions of personal and cultural identity and its relationship to space. In August 2019, Susan joined OCAD University as Delaney Chair in Indigenous Visual Culture and as Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences and School of Interdisciplinary Studies.


Indigenous Knowledges / Decolonial Pedagogies

graphic depicting diagram with white, black, red, and yellow portions, with the text Movement Behaviour, Knowledge Feeling, Time Relationship, and Vision Respect from "Justice and Aboriginal People" by James Dumont (1993)

Inaugural Events: A two-session workshop introducing decolonial approaches to pedagogy through examples of Indigenous epistemologies as a framework. Presented by Nadia McLaren, Indigenous Community Relations Advocate, and Ilene Sova, Ada Slaight Chair of Contemporary Painting and Drawing at OCAD University, Toronto. An Indigenous Elder will also be present to help guide the work in a respectful manner. 

All Sessions are Online (min. 5, max. 30 participants)

Supported by Pratt Strategic Funding

Session 1: Land Acknowledgement
Monday, October 26 at 3pm-5pm or  Friday, October 30 at 11am-1pm

Session 2: Relationship – Wholistic Pedagogy Theory and Community Building
Tuesday, November 10 at 3pm-5pm  or Friday, November 13 at 11am-1pm

These inaugural events, which are primarily offered to Pratt’s administrators, faculty, and staff, and are led by Ilene Sova and Nadia McLaren of OCAD University, Toronto, will lay the foundational groundwork of centering Indigenous knowledges and ways of being to demonstrate how these approaches are integral aspects of decolonizing work.  

Session 1: Land Acknowledgement 

Land Acknowledgment – Elder Opening. “What brings you here today?” is the topic of a community circle activation, through the modeling of decolonial discussion, whereby introducing ourselves and our stories in relationship to Land (or with positionality to our own histories and relationships to colonization). We will look at how colonization operates within our current context and how this affects students and faculty whose lived-experiences remind us of the urgency in which this work needs to be actively confronted by educational institutions. The participants will be introduced to an Anishinaabe Medicine Wheel and learn how the teachings embedded within can inform and guide institutional transformation Wholistically (Emotionally, Mentally, Physically and Spiritually) building a stronger and safer community.   

Session 2: Relationship – Wholistic Pedagogy Theory and Community Building

Elder opening. We will share OCAD University’s Wholistic Approach to Curriculum and Indigenous Learning Outcomes, the key principles and commitments underlying their development, and some important learnings from the consultation process that preceded their approval by the Senate. To ground the discussion, we will also share promising practices that have emerged from the work of the Decolonizing Studio Education Committee, a group of Drawing and Painting faculty and academic staff that have been working together since Fall 2018 to explore what it might mean to decolonize their program curriculum. We will conclude with an activity that allows participants to both share experiences of decolonizing curriculum in their own institutional contexts and explore OCADU’s Indigenous Learning Outcomes in the context of their own programs. 

Nadia McLaren
Indigenous Community Relations Advocate, OCAD University
As Indigenous Community Relations Advocate at OCAD University, Nadia McLaren contributes to the decolonization of OCAD University practices, policies and structures through a Wholistic approach to advocacy and community-building, working collaboratively throughout all sectors of the community. Nadia McLaren brings to this work her Anishnaabe (Bear Clan) ancestral and community knowledges and is also an OCAD Drawing and Painting graduate. As a writer and director, Nadia is currently involved with a project appearing on APTN (Aboriginal People’s Television Network) and is a published author finishing a graphic novel, “Ever Good,” which was awarded a grant from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) as a project of commemoration. All aspects of her work involve deep knowledge and experience in the areas of Indigenous community wellness, pedagogy, professional development, meaningful community engagement and relationship building. As an accomplished inter-national public speaker, educator, artist and storyteller with more than 15 years of experience working in Indigenous educational contexts, Nadia works to continuously honour the love she carries for her grandmother, Theresa McCraw.  One of the results of this love was an award-winning documentary she created in her honour, titled “Muffins for Granny” (Mongrel Media 2007). This documentary, part of the esteemed Criterion Collection (2012), is also endorsed by the TRC, and continues to be used in many educational institutions across Canada, shedding light on the intergenerational impacts of Canada’s Residential Schools Policy.

Ilene Sova
Ada Slaight Chair of Contemporary Painting and Drawing, OCAD University 

Ilene Sova identifies as mixed race with Black Carribean and white settler ancestry. Ilene’s painting practice focuses on social change with a feminist focus on creating a dialogue around anti-oppression. As the founder of the Feminist Art Collective she is also heavily involved in the areas of arts advocacy, community activation, and promoting pluralism in the arts. In particular, Ilene has worked with both Harbourfront Centre and the Art Gallery of Ontario to do training in diversity and equity practices. This work was incorporated into the development, implementation, and delivery of arts curricula. Due to this work, Ilene was invited to sit on the board of Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario. She holds an honours BFA from the University of Ottawa in Painting and an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Windsor. With extensive solo and group exhibitions in Canada and abroad, Sova’s work has most notably been shown at Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art, the Department of Canadian Heritage, and Mutuo Centro de Arte in Barcelona.. A passionate public speaker, Sova was chosen to speak at the first TEDxWomen event in Toronto, where she presented a critical analysis of her painting series the Missing Women Project and Southern University New York where she gave an all University Lecture on Art and Social Change. In October 2018, Sova was in invited to deliver the Arthur C. Danto Memorial Keynote Lecture at the 76th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Aesthetics (ASA)