10 To know

10 Socially Engaged Art Practitioners to Know: 9. Ping Chong + Company

Ping Chong + Company Ping Chong + Company produces theatrical works addressing the important cultural and civic issues of our times, striving to reach the widest audiences with the greatest level of artistic innovation and social integrity. The company was founded in 1975 by leading theatrical innovator Ping Chong with a mission to create works of theater and art that explore the intersections of race, culture, history, art, media and technology in the modern world. Today, Ping Chong + Company produces original works by a close-knit ensemble of affiliated artists, under the artistic leadership of Ping Chong. Productions range from intimate oral history projects to grand scale cinematic multidisciplinary productions featuring puppets, performers, and full music and projection scores. The ar...

10 Socially Engaged Art Practitioners to Know: 5. The Foundry Theatre

The Foundry Theatre The Foundry Theatre aspires to assemble a community of artists with revolutionary ideas for the theatre and the world in which it is situated. We commission, develop, premiere, and tour theatrical works that explore the (im)possibilities of theatre and we believe our body of work makes a passionate argument for its limitless potential.  In addition, The Foundry hosts ongoing dialogue series and community collaborations that bring artists together with stakeholders from other communities to unpack issues and ideas of contemporary social and political resonance. There is tremendous vitality in the assembly of individuals who have committed their lives to the theatre, not in service of a ‘career’ but out of a hunger to participate in creating a broader vision – to be part ...

10 Socially Engaged Art Practitioners to Know: 6. Pedro Reyes

Pedro Reyes Pedro Reyes was born in Mexico City in 1972. He designs ongoing projects that propose playful solutions to social problems. From turning guns into musical instruments, to hosting a People’s United Nations to address pressing concerns, to offering ecologically-friendly grasshopper burgers from a food cart, Reyes transforms existing problems into ideas for a better world. In the artist’s hands, complex subjects like political and economic philosophies are reframed in ways that are easy to understand, such as a puppet play featuring Karl Marx and Adam Smith fighting over how to share cookies. When encountering a project by the artist, viewers are often enlisted as participants, whether through one-on-one conversations, therapeutic acts, or as creators of objects in collaborative w...

10 Socially Engaged Art Practitioners to Know: 7. Paul Chan

Paul Chan Paul Chan was born in 1973 in Hong Kong and was raised in Omaha, Nebraska. He received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1996 and an MFA from Bard College in 2002. From the outset of his career, Chan has worked simultaneously as political activist and artist, known for such varied practices as his animated film projections and his invented fonts. The artist’s first major video piece, Happiness (Finally) After 35,000 Years of Civilization (After Charles Fourier and Henry Darger) (1999–2003), offers the realization and ultimate demise of the antiauthority utopia envisioned by 19th-century philosopher Charles Fourier. In 2002, at a time when US sanctions forbade working in Iraq, Chan spent a month in Baghdad with the aid group Voices in the Wilderness. T...

10 Socially Engaged Art Practitioners to Know: 8. Sojourn Theatre

Sojourn Theatre Sojourn Theatre, founded in 1999, is an award-winning ensemble theatre company comprised of 15 artists who live in 8 cities and make performance together around the nation. National/international touring, a body of 25 works, and a reputation for consistent innovation as artists and engagement practitioners has led to: a 2005 Ford Foundation/Americans for the Arts Exemplar Award; being featured regularly at conferences and universities nationwide as a “best practice model” for arts-based civic dialogue; being featured in recent articles in American Theater Magazine and Yale’s Theater Journal; partnerships with non-arts sector organizations such as city and state legislative bodies, social service agencies and cross-disciplinary arts centers around the country. Cu...

10 Socially Engaged Art Practitioners to Know: 10. Mammalian Diving Reflex

Mammalian Diving Reflex Based in Germany and Canada, Mammalian Diving Reflex views innovative artistic interventions as a way to trigger generosity and equity across the universe. Founded in 1993, Mammalian is a research-art atelier dedicated to investigating the social sphere, always on the lookout for contradictions to whip into aesthetically scintillating experiences. We are a culture production workshop that creates site and social-specific performance events, theatre-based productions, gallery-based participatory installations, video products, art objects and theoretical texts. Mammalian’s body of work is interconnected, varied and vibrant, reflecting our unique and growing body of knowledge and expertise on the use and function of culture. We create work that recognizes the social re...

10 Socially Engaged Art Practitioners to Know: 3. Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates Theaster Gates was born in Chicago in 1973. He first encountered creativity in the music of Black churches on his journey to becoming an urban planner, potter, and artist. Gates creates sculptures with clay, tar, and renovated buildings, transforming the raw material of urban neighborhoods into radically reimagined vessels of opportunity for the community. Establishing a virtuous circle between fine art and social progress, Gates strips dilapidated buildings of their components, transforming those elements into sculptures that act as bonds or investments, the proceeds of which are used to finance the rehabilitation of entire city blocks. Gates’s non-profit, Rebuild Foundation, manages the many projects in his Chicago hometown—including the Stony Island Arts Bank, Black Cinem...

10 Socially Engaged Art Practitioners to Know: 1. Aaron Landsman

Aaron Landsman Aaron Landsman makes live performances involving people, space, time and language. Based in New York City, his projects range from monologues and stage plays to participatory and conceptual works presented in places where people perform their lives: offices, homes, meeting rooms and buses. Recent works include: Empathy School, a performance created with filmmaker and composer Brent Green, commissioned by EMPAC and presented on a night bus ride through a country road; Appointment, a suite of works for a single viewer and a single performer in offices; City Council Meeting, a participatory, community-engaged work presented in five US cities, funded by NEFA’s National Theater Pilot, NPN, MAP and Jerome; and Running Away From The One With The Knife, a new play about suicide and ...

10 Socially Engaged Art Practitioners to Know: 2. Project Row Houses

Project Row Houses Project Row Houses (PRH) is a community-based arts and culture non-profit organization in Houston’s northern Third Ward, one of the city’s oldest African American neighborhoods. Founded in 1993 as a result of the vision of local African-American artists wanting a positive creative presence in their own community, PRH shifts the view of art from traditional studio practice to a more conceptual base of transforming the social environment. Central to the vision of PRH is the social role of art as seen in neighborhood revitalization, historic preservation, community service, and youth education. The programs of PRH are built around Five Pillars inspired by the work of internationally renowned artist John Biggers and his principles concerning the components of row house commu...

10 Socially Engaged Art Practitioners to Know: 4. Los Angeles Poverty Department

Los Angeles Poverty Department Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) creates performances and multidisciplinary artworks that connect the experience of people living in poverty to the social forces that shape their lives and communities. LAPD’s works express the realities, hopes, dreams and rights of people who live and work in L.A.’s Skid Row. LAPD believes in the power of imagination to motivate people —and not only artistically by acknowledging the hopes, dreams, rational and spiritual power at the core of everyone’s humanity.  LAPD’s success has encouraged many Skid Row agencies to integrate arts into their programs, and has informed policy. We’re a pipsqueak organization that has had a major impact on raising the value placed on the arts by social service providers and policy ma...

10 Performance Cabaret Artists to Know: 10. Ikechukwu Ufomadu

Ikechukwu Ufomadu Ikechukwu Ufomadu is an actor and comic entertainer. He is creator and host to a number of original, live shows including: his evening of talk-show entertainment Ike at Night (Under the Radar/The Public Theater, The Bushwick Starr, JACK); his night of comedy and music Nightcap | by Ike (Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater); his one-man variety hour Ike Night (Ars Nova, San Francisco Sketchfest); his Christmas show Ike for the Holidays (Manhattan Inn); and more. He performs stand-up at venues across New York, including Union Hall and UCB. He’s also featured in several episodes of The Special without Brett Davis. Ikechukwu has collaborated with several OBIE-winning theatre companies including: Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company, 600 Highwaymen and Hoi Polloi. He...

10 Performance Cabaret Artists to Know: 9. Salty Brine

Salty Brine The Living Record Collection Salty Brine is a New York-based actor, playwright, and cabaret artist. He is the creative force behindThe Living Record Collection, a series of cabaret performances built around popular albums. Time Out New York has called him “the love child of a Paul Lynde, Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey in Cabaret threeway”. NY Credits: Clown Bar (Pipeline, The Box), How Did I Get Here? (Bowery Arts & Science), Vera; Or The Nihilists (HERE), Shannon Foy (Bowery Arts & Science), The Poor Of New York (Connelly Theater), Backstage At Horror Drag (Animals, Incubator Arts Project), Thanksgiving! A! Pageant! (Ars Nova), The Infernal Machine (CSV Cultural Center), Straight Talk (Dixon Place), Taylor Mac’s The Lily’s Revenge (HERE), Oh The Horror! (Naked Angel...

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