Side By Side

The Social Practice minors in this exhibition have been immersed and intentional in their approaches to remaining socially engaged while physically distant this semester. Innovative solutions and expansive definitions of social practice are called for at this moment of uncertainty and are represented in the student work of these three social practice courses. Through the required courses of Collaborative Art Practice and the senior Capstone, and through the elective Photographer as Explorer, the Social Practice students of Fall 2020 are adapting and persevering using multidisciplinary strategies.


Capstone seniors have been working on a single ambitious project proposal all semester long. Based on receiving a grant in the amount of $20,000, the proposals required careful attention to detail and an ability to envision collaborations with a wide range of individuals and institutions resulting in community participation. Not by requirement, the student proposals all involve community-based pedagogy and knowledge sharing as a fundamental component. The course occurred remotely with frequent peer feedback sessions and individual meetings with the head of the Social Practice minor program, Sean Nash.

Collaborative Art Practice

Collaborative Art Practice, taught by Jarrett Mellenbruch, Assistant Professor in Sculpture, supports students with a methodology for developing collaborative engagements with community organizations. While the ability to do in-person work with community members was different this year, students adapted their projects to meet the individual health and safety scenarios of their chosen partner organizations. Some were able to work outdoors and meet with physical distancing at off-campus sites, while others met and worked virtually to create collaborative projects informed by their community partners. The text for the course listing states a learning objective to develop adaptive solutions to “real-world challenges encountered outside the classroom”- in 2020 this is an understatement!

Photographer as Explorer

This Photography and Social Practice elective, taught by Lilly McElroy, invites students to use a standpoint of discovery, exploration, and agency as makers in a saturated media environment. Represented here is a collaborative project by Zac Comstock, Emily Mooney, and Cat Sack. They worked on an exploration of their respective homes using webcams. Comstock asked their fellow artists to show them things in their homes that fit specific categories and they took screenshots of those objects. Mooney asked her fellow artists to engage in the contemplative act of looking out windows and she took screenshots. Also represented is an individual video project by Painting major Sophie Spoo. Spoo’s video references the complexity of presence in digital and physical spaces as necessitated by quarantine. By having her peer walk the perimeter of her property through a webcam, Spoo references the navigation of invisible boundaries in a moment that is between the physical and digital, public and private, and connectedness and isolation.