We are members of BFAMFAPhD. In 2014, we published Artists Report Back, making headlines with our call for cultural equity in the arts, and enabling us to give a keynote at the National Endowment for the Arts.
Since then, we have turned our attention to art school classrooms. For the past five years we have been trying ideas out in our classes and learning what works and what doesn’t — in classes which range widely from Foundations to BFA and MFA thesis classes. We have compiled our favorite activities and assignments in one book, website, and game. With your help, we can publish and distribute our resources from the classroom to the living room.
Whether you're a student, teacher, curator, artist, or someone who just wants to learn new ways to collaborate, we're hoping our project provides entry points that you can adapt to your context.
What Makes Ways of Being Different?
Our approach connects art to economy. Ways of Being is for anyone who wants to make artworks that reflect the conditions of their own production. For example, our group agreements and social-identity reflection activities bring awareness of positionality and shared intentions into the classroom. "Asset Mapping" - as it is called in community organizing - allows us to incorporate what students already know into our syllabi and to share existing skills. Our "critique menu" allows students to think through a range of structures for feedback that aim to support and facilitate their growth.
We teach deep listening, delegation, and collaboration. We sit together in silence to practice “slowing down” and being present for whatever arises. Last of all, we bring in a politicized professional practice into everyday assignments and activities that goes beyond a focus on the circulation of art projects.
Our project is called Ways of Being. It includes an interactive website with freely downloadable content, including PDFs of activities and assignments, a series of videos, and a card game.
What Will Your Contribution Support?
Ways of Being will be published by Punctum Books, and will go to print this winter in tandem with a series of public programs at Hauser & Wirth Publishers.
We are running a Kickstarter campaign so that you can help us:
- make our open source website with freely downloadable content
- pay our computer engineer
- pay our graphic designer
- pay our copyeditor
- pay our interviewees
- refine our website's videos and interviews with contemporary artists.
- print books and send them to you
- and offer free public workshops in NYC
After five years of workshops and classes, trying out our assignments and activities where we teach (at the School of Visual Arts, the University of Hartford, at Cooper Union, and at UMass Amherst), as well as at invited workshops at a lot of places (Malmö Art Academy, the Creative Time Summit, The Maryland Institute College of Art, Cornell University, College Art Association, CUE Foundation, Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, Spaceworks, and Open Engagement, Teacher’s College), we are ready to share our activities and assignments with you.
Please pre-order a book now, and consider giving more if you can. This will support the production of our website and videos and all of our freely downloadable content.
Ways of Being is a contribution to BFAMFAPhD made by Susan Jahoda and Caroline Woolard with support from Fellow Emilio Martinez Poppe. Susan Jahoda is a Professor in Studio Arts at the University of Amherst, MA; Emilio Martinez Poppe is the Program Manager at Fourth Arts Block (FABnyc) in New York, NY; Caroline Woolard is an Assistant Professor of Sculpture at The University of Hartford, CT.
BFAMFAPhD is a collective that employs visual and performing art, policy reports, and teaching tools to advocate for cultural equity in the United States. The work of the collective is to bring people together to analyze and reimagine relationships of power in the arts.
BFAMFAPhD received critical acclaim for Artists Report Back (2014), which was presented as the 50th anniversary keynote at the National Endowment for the Arts and was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Art and Design, Gallery 400 in Chicago, Cornell University, and the Cleveland Institute of Art. Their work has been reviewed in The Atlantic, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish, WNYC, and Hyperallergic, and they have been supported by residencies and fellowships at the Queens Museum, Triangle Arts Association, NEWINC, and by Pratt Fine Arts, Project Third, where they are in residence right now.
Not contributing directly to Ways of Being are BFAMFAPhD collective members Agnes Szanyi, a Doctoral Student at The New School for Social Research in New York, NY and Vicky Virgin, a Research Associate with the Mayor's Office for Economic Opportunity in New York, NY.
Risks and challenges
We are working with an experienced Publisher (Punctum Books), experienced graphic designers (Topos Graphics), and an experienced web developer (Or Zubalsky), so we are confident that this project can happen. While an emergency could always delay the final publication date, we are 90% done with our manuscript and already have it in the hands of our Editor (Daniel Fromson). We have confirmed a book launch with Hauser & Wirth Publications next summer (May 2019), and are moving toward that deadline on a daily basis. We have been working together for 5 years, so we have become quite good at setting realistic deadlines for ourselves.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (35 days)