Category Archives: Art

Urban Frontier Bench (The Limited Youth Edition)

This week, I am presenting an artwork in an international exhibit called #exstrange. #exstrange is a curatorial project transforming eBay into a site of artistic production. This live exhibition project showcases artworks conceived by contemporary artists to be encountered as auctions by passersby on eBay. Auctions happen daily. View. Bid. Comment. Join the exhibition.

My auction, Urban Frontier Bench (The Limited Youth Edition), begins February 1, 2017 and will last 7 days. Happy bidding!

Why art education and public engagement?

Courtesy of

Excerpt of talk given at UIUC Office of Public Engagement Colloquium, March 18, 2015

“… So why art education and public engagement?

Art education is often thought of in the context of K-12 classroom teaching, but we might also think about art education as a public pedagogy. In other words, art education occurs in other publics, including the school, such as online, at home, on the streets, in community centers, or in shopping malls.

Art education is a vibrant place for conversation about public engagement, although it’s not without its challenges. Art, for example, has often been credited, not unproblematically, with its civilizing potential — to make people better, more esteemed citizens through engagement with “high culture.” And it is often assumed that art making and teaching art is inherently beneficial, particularly when taught to marginalized and/or excluded populations.

Both assumptions can get us into trouble.

Nonetheless, in the art education program at Illinois, we consider how art and art making gives us permission to try at least, perhaps only momentarily, to make ourselves anew, to make the world anew, and to think about old problems in new ways and to create new problems in new ways.

As we engage in creative problem solving and creative making of problems, we play with ways to arrange forms and ideas and ourselves as social beings. I think this image from Professor Lucero’s classroom provides a useful illustration (see above); our students here consider how to play with patterns emerging from locker faces — a form normally associated with institutionalized settings that suppress individual and creative expression.

When we combine this art making with education, we are invited to think how both become enmeshed in our ethical and civic commitments: perhaps how we might reduce suffering, redress injustice, advance the common good, and imagine common goods. These are the conversations we are having at Illinois when we think about art education as public engagement…”

I am performing A Spinning Trace in the University of Illinois’s School of Art And Design’s Faculty Exhibition at the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois from October 6, 2013 through January 5, 2014.  In KAM’s East gallery, I am exhibiting the manly art of jumping rope.  Actually, I am appropriating an African-American girl’s street art for exhibition in a university art museum.  But I am really trying to get fit now so that I can endure the next 5 years of tenure-seeking!   So I am conducting a hermeneutic phenomenological investigation of jumping rope (trans. I am trying to describe and to interpret the lived experience of spinning and jumping over a twirling rope).  But then again, as a college professor of art education, I am reproducing art education’s status by performing as a working act in the sideshow to the more serious artwork produced by faculty who can actually make art rather than teach it.  Except I do not want to apologize for the fact that this project is about manliness, so I am saying publicly for an art world audience that jumping rope in a museum is a creative self-fashioning somaesthetic practice.  In the end, I can admit neither to these publics nor myself that I am seeking psychoanalysis for my forsaken relationships with my father and my brother, who both influenced my interest in jumping rope.  So I am handing over the tiny sense of agency that I once had through subjecting myself to the suffering of jumping rope under the surveillance of a rabbit overlord.  In the end, I may just be investigating the lived experience of entropy.  As Merce Cunningham liked to say, there is no meaning, only movement [until there isn’t any movement, Merce… so rest in piece(s)].

Stay tuned here for a schedule of performances of A Spinning Trace, as well as descriptions and enterpretations from Dr D., a manly college professor.