Weekend practicums in UIndy’s Social Practice Art program provide our graduate students with close collaboration with visiting artists and the focused, intensive work of an artist residency. These hands-on opportunities are balanced with semester-long courses in social practice and placemaking, grant writing, and social entrepreneurship that take place during the week. On weekends, innovative practicums connect students with professional artists to go beyond the gallery to engage communities and address urgent social issues through art.

The Movement Practicum is taught by choreographer and dance professor Rebecca Pappas. The coursework engages with choreographers and dance companies like Allison Orr, Dance Exchange, and Urban Bush Women, and utilizes aspects of Gibney Dance’s Institute for Community Action Training (ICAT). Pappas’s practicum challenges students to de-center themselves from the creative process and to think less about the object, artifact, and outcome so they focus more on the environment and people around them. The final project culminates with each student offering a body-based, site-specific public performance or intervention.

Artist and Big Car Collaborative co-founder Jim Walker has offered a variety of practicums influenced by Dada, Surrealism, Fluxus, and participatory art that focus on small towns and neighborhoods. Walker led the first practicum to activate a vacant storefront in Union City, Indiana, for a weekend of neighborhood engagement. Subsequent practicums have centered around Big Car’s Social Alchemy project, which focuses on utopias and the town of New Harmony, Indiana, which was itself the site of two utopian experiments in the early 1800s. This past year, students worked with Walker to produce participatory art that aired on Big Car’s community radio station, WQRT 99.1.

Other practicums have focused on food systems and urban farming, the environment and ecology, and walking as artistic practice. All culminate with a site-based participatory or interactive event. This multidisciplinary and collaborative approach helps students connect their creative practice to wider social issues to become community leaders.

Learn more about the University of Indianapolis MA in Social Practice Art at uindy.edu.