I am excited to share with you that I have received a post-doctoral fellowship at Brown University’s John Nicholas Brown Center for the Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage (JNBC) for the 2012-2013 academic year. The Center connects academic communities and the broader public through history, art, and culture. Since I left Providence in 2007, I earned my doctorate in the UK researching the pedagogies of artists working in so-called informal settings. The fellowship at JNBC allows me to continue to research and teach in the the arts, humanities, and public engagement field.
It’s going to be sad for our family to leave the UK this summer. We have made special friends here. But we are excited about coming back for a stop in Providence. I’m excited to return to Providence to apply my research training partly because the Antonio Cirino Memorial Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation was a big supporter of my graduate studies.
If you are curious about the fellowship, I have proposed to work on three projects:
Research at New Urban Arts:
In 2011, Jason Yoon, New Urban Arts‘ Executive Director, commissioned // Design Agency // and me to think about how and why New Urban Arts’ studio members and alumni might document, interpret and share what they do in the studio and why it is meaningful to them. This project was supported through a grant by Artography. a grant and documentation program of LINC, funded by the Ford Foundation. Through this project, I began to think with Jane Androski about a research design that might be suitable for New Urban Arts’ studio members. Through the fellowship at JNBC, I now have the opportunity to do this research.
Jason is interested in providing me access to the studio to do this research because he believes strongly that it will have broad implications for the way we describe the role the arts play in the lives of youth and in our communities. I’m grateful that he is providing me access to New Urban Arts to do this project. When I worked at New Urban Arts, I was trying so hard to build the place that I rarely had the time and space to listen actively to its studio members and alumni about what they did there and why it mattered to them. I hope studio members and alumni will join this research and share insights that will be fresh to me and to the world beyond the studio walls.
Teaching at Brown:
At JNBC, I will be teaching two graduate-level seminars, one on community arts and one on digital storytelling. In the past, I have met some fabulous MA students enrolled in the public humanities program at JNBC and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work with them and other Brown students. The details of the courses are still being worked out, but if you are interested, stay tuned. In both courses, there will be some opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to engage in community-based projects. If you are working at an arts and cultural organization in Li’l Rhody, perhaps you would be interested in developing short-term, mutually beneficial projects with them? If so, please contact me.
Public discussion series for Rhode Island:
I will organize a public discussion series at JNBC to consider some criticisms of artists and scholars’ public engagement practices. One criticism includes projecting shared decision-making never achieved in practice, what some have called idealized democracy. A second criticism includes artists and scholars putting community partners, particularly young people, in positions where they express their ideological views, what some have called predetermined criticism. Perhaps you have struggled with these tensions in the public humanities? I plan to pull together a couple of panels to discuss ways in which folks have wrestled with these and other criticisms of public engagement. If you are interested in exploring these or other related topics, contact me.