In case you missed our recent workshop, Professional Practices: Community Engagment Toolboxwe wanted to provide useful links and additional information about Community Engagment.

Understanding the Terms: Public Art vs. Community-Engaged Art

Public Art: Art in any media that has been planned and executed with the intention of being staged in the physical public domain, usually outside and accessible to all.

Community-Engaged Art: (WITH) Sometimes known as dialogical art, or community-based art, refers to artistic activity based in a community setting. Works from this genre can be of any media, but is generally characterized by interaction or dialogue with the community.

Socially Engaged Art/Social Practice: “Socially engaged art is a field of practice which argues that there is a critical difference between an art that engages in the politics of representation and the art institutions, and an art that engages in wider political practices.”* Artwork that uses social engagement as a primary medium. Generally, socially engaged work is more issue focused.

*Barry, A. 2006. Socially Engaged Art and Social Research (University of Oxford, School of Geography and the Environment

Exemplary Projects and well known artists

  • Project Row Houses
  • Philadelphia Mural Arts Program  
  • Between the Door and the Street
  • 96 Acres
  • Stop Telling Women to Smile
  • Theaster Gates
  • Adrian Piper
  • Mierle Laderman Ukeles
  • Liz Lerhman
  • Judith Baca
  • Tania Bruguera
  • Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

MICA's Community Engagement Toolbox

The Community Engagement Toolbox was developed by the Office of Community Engagement as series of best practices for students, faculty, and staff to use during their partnerships with other institutions and groups. Though specifically designed for MICA students and staff, this toolbox provides a basic set of information on components one may encounter when working on a community-engaged project.

Partnership MOU's and Agreements

  • When partnering with another institution, organization, business, or individual on a project it is important that each party fully understands what their partnership entails.

Group Participations and Photo Waiver

  • When documenting a project it is important to have participants fill out a photography wavier or participation waiver. This waiver allows you to take and reproduce images or written documentation from your project.

Model Releases

  • The model release form is similar to the photography waiver and allows you to get consent from a particular person that may appear frequently in your documentation, or may be acting as a model/performer for your product.

Intellectual Property

  • When working on a project, questions may arise as to the ownership of the product or idea that is generated. Research MICA's IP policy here.

Documenting Projects

  • Documenting your project is critical. Documentation allows your project funders or supporters to see the larger impact of your collaboration and its outcome.

Vulnerable Populations

  • It is essential that you maintain a professional working relationship with everyone you encounter, especially when interacting with vulnerable population

Additional Resources


  • Whose Art Is It?, by Jane Kramer
  • The One and The Many, by Grant Kester
  • Conversation Pieces, by Grant Kester
  • Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art, by Suzanne Lacy

Public Art Toolkit: Community Engagment

  • To help ensure the success of your public art project, a good first step is to define the community or communities being served. The community may be different than the audience being served, so it is good to consider both of these stakeholders. The community can—and, in some cases, should—be involved in every stage of the public art process. You can control how to involve the community to help ensure a positive, constructive experience. Education and media coverage about your project—and the process—are useful ways to connect with the community and extend the life of your project. Documentation is useful to have at various stages of any project. Still photos and video are beneficial for promoting your project at various stages. With viral marketing and photo sharing, this represents another way to engage the community in helping promote and discuss your project...

Project Row Houses (PRH)

  • A community-based arts and culture non-profit organization in Houston’s northern Third Ward, one of the city’s oldest African American neighborhoods.

UChicago Arts

  • The arts are central to the mission of the University of Chicago. With a strong tradition of cross-disciplinary practices, intricately mixed with intellectual curiosity and creative energy, the University fosters a bustling arts community on Chicago’s South Side.

Kojo Nnamdi: Where The Public Fits In Public Art Projects

  • The most successful public art projects are hailed for their vision and for how they enhance communities that experience them. But the blowback to a temporary project in vacant Southeast Washington storefronts and a separate proposal to construct a model of a sunken gas station in the Anacostia River opened new questions about just how much input the public should have in public art.
  • Guests: Greta Fuller Representative, D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commission (8A), Tonya Jordan Public Art Program Manager, D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Christina Cauterucci Arts Editor, Washington City Paper, Blake Gopnik Critic At-Large; Artnet News; Former chief art critic, The Washington Post

Creative Capital Professional Development

  • Artist-Community Engagement Workshop: Build sustainable relationships to organize, finance and execute community-engaged art projects.

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January 23, 2015