What skills are needed to do this kind of work?
Social practice art would necessitate a working knowledge of whatever medium was involved in the projects they wanted to complete – for instance, if one wanted to create a mural in an urban space, you would need experience with paint, but if you wanted to renovate an interior space you would need to be able to accomplish the tasks that project would entail. I also think that for this type of work to be really effective, you would need to know the space that you were working in as well as coordinate with the people that are living and working there. I think that on top of being an artistic endeavor, this work would be first and foremost a social, interpersonal effort
What theoretical ideas do people appear to interact with as a part of this vocation?
Toward the end of his TED Talk, Theaster Gates was asked how he would respond to critics of his project who would argue that the funds which he and his colleagues use to renovate abandoned urban spaces would be better spent providing necessary services to those in need – Gates responded by saying that he believes that beauty is a necessary service.
How well do your interests and gifts intersect with this field?
Doing this kind of work would actually be amazing – I feel very strongly about the spaces and communities that are getting left behind in our country and in the broader global world. I think that a lot of the time, our culture would tell us that low-income communities, especially those largely inhabited by people of color, are as deserving of beautification efforts as other, more affluent spaces. I think that especially, historically-urban, low-income spaces are getting gentrified at an alarming rate, as people who are financially able are taking advantage of low-value areas. I think that it is important to demonstrate in a physical, tangible sense that a neighborhood has value, and especially to provide resources to communities that probably don’t have access to the types of programs that could foster growth in the arts and sciences. We have a really tremendous portion of our population not getting access to the opportunity of an education, and I think that that loss is detrimental to all of us.
What would you need to do between now and your graduation date to be successful in this field?
For this type of work, it would probably be most helpful to major with a focus in either interior design or general art. If that wasn’t a viable option due to time constraints, or because a person wanted to complete a different major, I think that a minor in 2D media could also give them some of the tools they might need. I think that in addition to any particular art minor, it would be extremely beneficial to complete one of the minors provided by SPU’s school of business and economics. For example, I think that entrepreneurship, while not precisely this type of work, would be likely to add some tools to your skillset that would benefit social practice art.