April 2, 2014

“Open Engagement 2014: Life/Work”

Queens Museum
Mildred’s Lane, Drift Foraging.

“Open Engagement” is an international conference that sets out to explore various perspectives on art and social practice, and expand the dialogue around socially engaged art making. “Open Engagement 2014″ is planned in conjunction with the Queens Museum, A Blade of Grass, Social Practice Queens at Queens College, and a selection of artists, educators, and invested parties.

This year the selection process brought together groups of people representing the expansive and complex ecosystems that support these practices—museum perspectives, funding perspectives, education perspectives, artist perspectives, and student perspectives. Students, faculty, staff, and committee members worked with one another to select the presenters and create the conference programming. This year we have brought together a diverse group of over 200 presenters from around the world, including keynote speakers Mierle Laderman Ukeles and J. Morgan Puett. We have assembled these voices to reflect on subjects that are inextricable from our daily existence: life and work. Through conversations, presentations, workshops, interviews, open reflections, and related projects created for or presented at the conference, we will be investigating, questioning, celebrating, and challenging the current state of socially engaged art and its relationship to contemporary life. “Open Engagement” is a free conference that will take place May 16–18.

“Open Engagement 2014″ is sited at the newly renovated Queens Museum, with additional programming at New York Hall of Science, Queens Theater in the Park, Immigrant Movement International, and various other locations around New York including MoMA, Flux Factory, Creative Time, Aperture, Vera List Center for Art and Politics, and Laundromat Projects. This year will also include a number of New York-based academic programs led by Social Practice Queens at Queens College, CUNY. We are also providing an extensive suite of workshops that address funding, writing, curating, and community organizing as it pertains to the field.

In an effort to better connect and support life/work, the conference has partnered with the Danish art collective Wooloo’s Human Hotel in NYC to provide free private housing for visiting cultural workers traveling with children. Wooloo’s contribution to “Open Engagement 2014″ addresses a primary need at the conference, as well as explores the ways in which areas of support and cooperation are essential to allow for structures of full participation in society.

“Open Engagement 2014″ is also collaborating with the Wooloo and the Queens Museum’s Education Department to provide an art camp to children of conference attendees on site during the conference. Sixten Kai Nielsen and Martin Rosengaard of Wooloo, both fathers, will personally run the free camp for children aged 4–12. There are limited camp spots, if you are interested in participating, please indicate it on your registration form. Camp registration will remain open until full.

The full conference schedule is now available online, and early bird registration is now open. Free registration begins Monday April 7.

To register, visit


Keynote presenters bios
J. Morgan Puett is an interdisciplinary artist, cultural producer, fashion designer, and co-founder and Director of Mildred’s Lane and The Mildred Complex(ity). Her work explores pedagogical structures, systems of labor, sociality, ethics, and all-encompassing lived experience.
Mierle Laderman Ukeles is a defining artist in the history of performance, feminist, and socially engaged art and has been the official artist in residence with New York City’s Department of Sanitation for over three decades. Her work models possibilities of how an artist can create long-term, sustainable alternative contexts within which to situate and create their work.

Partnering organizations
Queens Museum is a local international art space in Flushing Meadows Corona Park with contemporary art, events, and educational programs reflecting the diversity of Queens and New York City. The museum presents the work of emerging and established artists, changing exhibitions that speak to contemporary urban issues, and projects that focus on the rich history of its site. In November 2013, the museum opened its new space, a 105,000-square-feet venue with a soaring skylit atrium, suite of day-lit galleries, and improved flexible event space.

A Blade of Grass is a new funding non-profit that is dedicated to nurturing socially engaged art—an evolving field at the intersection of art and social change. We provide fellowship resources to artists who demonstrate artistic excellence, work actively in dialogue with communities at ambitious scale, and enact social change. We create events and content in order to foster an inclusive, practical discourse about the aesthetics, function, ethics and meaning of socially engaged art.

Social Practice Queens at Queens College is an MFA concentration in social practice that integrates studio work with social, tactical, interventionist, and cooperative art forms. SPQ’s goal is to initiate interdisciplinary projects with real world outcomes rooted in CUNY’s rigorous departmental offerings (e.g. urban studies, environmental science, public policy, experimental pedagogy, social theory) in tandem with the Queens Museum’s ongoing community-based activities.


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