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A Social Practice Matrix

Research Open House 2020

Duff Norris, MFA Fine Arts ‘20 and Shaun Leonardo
School of Art, Fine Arts

The Social Practice Matrix was developed as part of A Social Practice Laboratory, Shaun Leonardo’s PROJECT THIRD residency. The lab offered an investigation into varied forms of creative public engagement through a series of student-driven projects which explored the interpersonal potential of art in various social spaces, including community center, prison, classroom, and living room. Duff Norris (MFA 20′) created the Matrix with Leonardo’s guidance and input from other student participants, as a tool for understanding the boundaries of a project, and how different projects might overlap, conflict, or collaborate with each other. It can be used to negotiate an individual project’s needs as the work changes over development and execution. Additionally, it can work for collaborating artists to identify synergies, redundancies, and/or deficiencies within projects. Finally, the tool can be used by organizations to assess works, set priorities, and identify intersections they want to support when selecting fellowships and awards. Removing the dichotomy embedded in standard models for assessment (good vs bad, concrete objectives, failure or success), which are ill-fitted for socially-engaged work, this evaluation brings a different kind of language to the appraisal method.


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6. Guggenheim Social Practice. Guggenheim Museum 2018
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8. Public Servants: Art and the Crisis of the Common Good (edited by Johanna Burton, Shannon Jackson, and Dominic Willsdon). MIT Press 2016.
9. Ramírez Jonas, Paul. Toward New Terms, New Museum 2017
10. Leonardo, Shaun. “The Impossibilities of Language”: Artist Shaun Leonardo on Why Words Can Divide Us, Guggenheim blog, May 23, 2018
11. manuel arturo abreu, We Need to Talk About Social Practice, Art Practical, March 6, 2019.
12. Whitehead, Francis. The Embedded Artist: Double Agent, A Blade of Grass blog, April 26, 2016