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Conference Program  March 7 - 8, 2013

Keynote Address: Robert D. Austin

Thursday, March 7, 12 noon

While teaching at Harvard Business School, Copenhagen Business School and the Business School at the University of New Brunswick, Robert Austin has been a forceful proponent for the integration of artistic intelligence into other realms of knowledge and practice as a powerful new approach for innovating by iteration and achieving valuable societal outcomes through a collaborative model of working:

“Collaborating artists, using the human brain as their principal technology and ideas as their principal material, work with a very low cost of iteration. They try something and then try it again a different way, constantly reconceiving ambiguous circumstances and variable materials into coherent and valuable outputs.”

 Panel Presentation (Maine): Art & Medicine


Thursday, March 7, 1:30 - 3:00 p.m.

Presented by:

Nancy Andrews, artist, educator and research consultant

Michele Balas, PhD, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Distinguished Scientist and Lead Investigator

Mark V. Pauly, PhD, Program Co-Director; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Program for Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative

Samata Sharma, M.D., Fellow in Clinical Psychiatry, Brigham and Womens Hospital, Boston, MA

Moderated by:

Donna McNeil, Arts Policy and Program Director, Maine Arts Commission

Background Information

Two-thirds of patients in intensive care units (ICU) develop delirium, and half of the people who leave the ICU later suffer from debilitating dementia-like illness, which appears to be related to the duration of the in-hospital delirium. Rates of mental health diseases such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are also disturbingly high in patients following critical illness. Clinically significant depression may occur in as many as 30% of ICU survivors, while between 15% and 40% of these patients experience symptoms of PTSD ( Artist Nancy Andrews is one of those patients, having survived a critical illness in 2006.  As part of her recovery, she created drawings and films about her experience, and began to develop ways to use her artwork to improve other patients’ experiences as well as raise public awareness of this under-recognized health issue.

Nancy was introduced to Michele Balas, R.N., Ph.D., A.P.R.N.-N.P., C.C.R.N. and assistant professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing, who leads a multidisciplinary team of researchers and clinicians in a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to test and disseminate a program to improve the care of adults in the ICU. Michele, inspired by the communicative power of Nancy’s visual artwork, has asked Nancy to be a consultant on the project.

Presentation Content

This presentation and discussion will focus on their collaborative, interdisciplinary work to design a new website to disseminate information about ICU delirium and its aftermath, geared to both patients and their families. Included on the site will be resources and a blog for post-ICU survivors. The collaborative team will also discuss its effort to disseminate this information through mass media: The New York Times and radio, for example.

Mark V. Pauly, Program Co-Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative, will discuss fostering inter-professional collaboration as a key component of the initiative to improve he outcomes for critically ill adults.

Samata Sharma, M.D. will discuss the advatages of integrating an artistic approach into the study and practice of science and medicine.

Key Questions

How do visual narratives of patient experience enter into dialogue with medical research, patient education and public awareness of health/medical issues?

How can art not simply further the pre-existing mission of the science/medical community in an illustrative way or as an adjunct to the work of healthcare, but rather be fully integrated to create a place for art and health or science practice to be combined and synthesized into a coherent whole?

And what might that coherent whole make visible that which is currently unseen and less well understood?


Panel Presentation (Boston): Art, Justice & Consumption

“FeFa”: Artists and the Tipping Point - Pregoneros in Cuba

Thursday March 7, 3:30 - 5:00 p.m.

Presented by:

Magdalena Campos-Pons, artist and professor at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston  

Neil Leonard, Artistic Director of Berklee's Interdisciplinary Arts Institute and Professor of Electronic Production and Design at Berklee College of Music

Robert Austin, Dean of the Faculty of Business Administration at the University of New Brunswick and Professor of Management of Innovation and Creativity at Copenhagen Business School.

Todd Lester, Executive Director, Global Arts Corps, and Senior Fellow, World Policy Institute

Moderated by:

Doris Sommer, Ira and Jewell Williams Professor of Romance Languages and African and African American Studies,  Director of the Cultural Agents Initiative, Harvard University

Background Information

FeFa was an exhibition and performance created for the first solo exhibition of Maria Magdelena Campos-Pons in Cuba after 22 years of living in the U.S. The work premiered at Casa de Las Americas in February 2012 and was further developed for the Havana Biennial in May 2012, FeFa  stands for familiares en el extranjero, FE and family abroad, FA. It is both a character and a metaphor of the immigration, exile and family and community separation experienced by numerous Cuban families.  The exhibition was designed to indicate that the bonds remain strongand necessary between the Cubans of the diaspora and those who stayed in Cuba. Despite the scattered fragments of their lives, a unity remains that of family.

Prior to the opening of the exhibition, a dialog had been structured to ask ordinary Cubans whether they had family abroad, and if so, what they hoped to receive from them. Campos-Pons and her students from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts started a collection of goods in response to expressed needs and desires. LUSH, an international cosmetics company and Clear Flour Bakery, based in Massachusetts, offered goods and expertise. Hundreds of gift packets were assembled. During the opening performance in Havana, the young artists from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts distributed the gift packages and bread to the audience, bread which had been prepared by the artists and Cuban and American bakers who learned how to make bread together. The process engendered a spirit of communication between those two countries, whose relationship is often dominated by ambivalence and tension.

For the opening performance, the artists also arranged the first national pregonero 'competition' to juxtapose their voices with FeFa's arrival on site, and follow her through the audience.  The pregoneros, prohibited from selling their goods openly on the street decades, had recently become authorized to sell their goods. Their street calls, which date back to African ancestry, reappeared and changed the actual sound of Cuba seemingly overnight. The voice of the pregonero, with all of their idiosyncratic elements of theater, humor, lyricism and spontaneity reminds the public that culture and its practices are anchored regardless of distances, in a strong social imaginary that is the foundation for a common experience of community that is both deep and unalterable.

The exhibition installation included video of Cuban pegoneros and original sound composed by Neil Leonard.

Presentation Content

 The collaborating artists will briefly discuss the scope and intent of “FeFa”, the collaborative project that Magda Campos-Pons and Neil Leonard developed for the Havana Biennial in May 2012. [As a result of this project, Magda and Neil have been invited to represent Cuba at the Venice Biennial in 2013]. The artists worked for many years to establish the trust necessary to realize their vision – to open communication and inquiry between families at home and families abroad, between the Cuba and the US, as well as between Cuba’s unofficial and official cultureThis panel will focus on how, after many years of research, Magda and Neil chose to actualize their vision of open communication, including how they worked around specific “tipping points”.   One of those tipping points was the status of the pregoneros, or street vendors.  Shunned and silenced for decades, the artists reclaimed the pregoneros opportunity to speak and to sell freely. They accomplished this by positioning the pregoneros as artisans of the spoken word within their art project. They invited a group of 15 pregoneros to engage in the first competition of the pregonero as part of the opening ceremony of FeFa.  Cuba has since established a national competition of the pegoneros, presented on national television. This panel looks at the way in which artists, through years of research, observing and listening, can intuit a tipping point in the culture and create the appropriate form for that tipping point to occur. 

Referring back to the overall purpose of the conference, we want to demonstrate through this panel discussion how artists, through careful research, long-term commitment, sensitive “knowing” and open collaboration, contributed to forward movement , in this case, democratic communication in Cuba.

Key Questions

Can the symbolic and aesthetic, coupled with grassroots actions, lead not only to notions of greater justice for people separated by economic and geopolitical boundaries but also help to reimagine the relationship between nations?


Cocktail Reception

Thursday, March 7, 5:00 - 6:00 p.m.


Panel Presentation: New Modes & Spaces of Cultural Production

Thursday, March 7, 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.

With Jessica Garz, Gavin Kroeber, Elizabeth MacWillie, Sara Hendren and Scott Berzofsky

Graduates and current students at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Art, Design and the Public Domain; the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning; and the MIT Department of Architecture, Program in Art, Culture and Technology

With academic backgrounds in fine arts, theater art, architecture, urban design, planning, policy, or some combination thereof, these (re)emerging practitioners are each navigating the institutional landscape and figuring out whether to work from the periphery of one existent or to create their own.  This past summer, in the first months post-thesis, they found themselves working in very different contexts -- for city government in Newark, with artists on a collective project for documenta in Germany, for a non-profit climate change-focused organization in Los Angeles.

The purpose of the presentation is to share with funders, policy and knowledge leaders new roles and forms of cultural production that are developing adjacent to the dominant and “legitimate” cultural system. Leaving discipline-based approaches behind, these new forms of cultural production take an integrated view of a subject and connect different methods and bodies of knowledge in order to foster a holistic and contextualized aesthetic experience that goes far beyond art in the limited sense of the word. Experimental cultural producers are increasingly forming provisional collectives and institutions, often forgoing incorporation and non-profit status in favor of flexible frameworks – structured affiliations of collaborators and partners timed and scaled according the needs of a given project.


Breakfast Reception

Friday March 8, 8:00 am


Funders Exchange: Supporting Arts and Culture for Community, Civic and Social Change

Friday, March 8, 8:30 – 9:45 a.m.

Presented by:

Animating Democracy, a program of Americans for the Arts

Be part of a national conversation! Join this lively breakfast round table for funders and investors about the emerging field of arts for changephilanthropy. Animating Democracy, a program of Americans for the Arts, is holding peer exchanges across the country to facilitate mutual learning about approaches to funding arts for change work, how such support fits in the context of broader investment goals, what outcomes donors are looking for through their support, and common obstacles that may inhibit support as well as opportunities for growing support. Co-directors Barbara Schaffer Bacon and Pam Korza will also introduce resources for assessing and understanding the social impact of arts for change work as part of its Arts & Civic Engagement IMPACT Initiative. Sharing findings from its Trend or Tipping Point: Arts & Social Change Grantmaking Report, this discussion will also inform Animating Democracy’s research for a new study to be issued in 2014. 

Whether exploring or affirming your place in supporting “arts for change,” this exchange can inform your work and help you make useful connections.

Animating Democracy, a program of Americans for the Arts, inspires, informs, promotes, and connects arts and culture as potent contributors to community, civic, and social change. It brings national visibility to arts for change work, builds knowledge about quality practice, and creates useful resources. By demonstrating the public value of creative work that contributes to social change and fostering synergy across arts and other fields and sectors, Animating Democracy works to make the arts an integral and effective part of solutions to the challenges of communities and toward ensuring a healthy democracy.

Americans for the Arts is the nation's leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. From offices in Washington, DC, and New York City, it serves more than 150,000 organizational and individual members and stakeholders.


Panel Presentation (Providence): Art, Technology & Empathy

Friday, March 8, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

Presented by:

Kelly Dobson, Department Chair of Digital + Media at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Alice Flaherty MD, Ph.D., Dir., Movement Disorders Fellowship, Massachusetts General Hospital;Associate Professor of Neurology; Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

Peggy Reynolds, Ph.D.,Department of Comparative Studies, The Ohio State University 

Moderated by:

Cynthia Cohen, PhD, Director, Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts, Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, Brandeis University

Background Information

Kelly Dobson is interested in structures (be they play, real, social, political, technical, legal, institutional, pedagogical, familial) through which people find and/or make tethers to each other and their environments. This combines areas of research and practice including Psychology, Social Science, Engineering, Art, Design, Literary Theory, STS, among others. Her previous projects have included investigations into voice as a primary space for development and feedback, machines as collaborators in public performance, wearable social prostheses, re-appropriated domestic appliances, medical companion machines for aid in care of loved ones and care of self. According to Dobson, our habitual signifiers for the most part remain unable to give sufficient attention to our linking to each other in contingent and consequential ways. A work is called for, a series and a collaboration, that heals the rupture between people, each other, animals and the environment. 

Presentation Content

The presentation and discussion will focus on empathy and mediated connection. A medical researcher, humanities scholar, and an artist together will present and contextualize recent research and projects combining art, engineering, medicine and visceral and social connection via new apparatuses of engagement. One of the projects that will be discussed is an incubator element that may keep a premature infant viscerally linked with his/her mother while in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Another project, a pair of remote-to-each-other large-scale sculptures/machines/group-prostheses, offers non-verbal but audible and felt communication bridges between people in different places perhaps culturally or otherwise separated. This project, useful as a creative space for connection and potentially as a step in reconciliation work, will be shared in early stages and model form for participants to experience. 

Key questions 

What do machines do and mean for people other than what we consciously design and perceive them to do and be used for? Can a mode of aesthetic engagement that is not semantic or logical be a way into empathy and connection and other modes of communication perhaps previously unattainable? 


Panel Presentation (Pioneer Valley): Art, Food Systems & Community Transformation: Springfield (MA) Seed Library

Friday, March 8, 11:30 - 1:00 p.m.

Presented By:

Joseph Krupczynski, UMass Amherst Center for Design Engagement

Margot Malachowski, Outreach Librarian at Baystate Medical Center, Springfield

Doris Madsen, Reference Librarian, Springfield Public Library

Lisa DePiano, Founder, Mobile Design Lab, Permaculture designer/educator

Moderated by:

Tim Fisk, Executive Director, Alliance to Develop Power, Springfield, MA

Background Information

This project is a collaboration between Joseph Krupczynski, professor of Architecture at UMass Amherst, library partners Doris Madsen of the Springfield Public Library,  Margot Malachowski, Outreach Librarian at Baystate Medical Center, and LIsa DePiano, Permaculture Designer.

The “Springfield Seed Library” is a project that catalyzes conversations and actions aimed at creating a healthier Springfield. At the center of the project is a retrofitted library card catalogue that serves as a participatory platform, a community archive and an advocacy tool for local health education, seed saving, community gardening, food justice, and access to healthy foods. Through interactive programming the project becomes a visual and social catalyst for discussing, highlighting and disseminating information about healthy community-based practices.  Collectively managed by several Springfield organizations, each of the 15 drawers of the card catalog will become a repository for health education and food initiatives throughout the city.Visual documentation, “how-to” pamphlets, surveys, informational brochures and creative advocacy tools will all be stored within the cabinet and allow Springfield residents to engage in a two-way participatory process to contribute to, as well as learn more about, the many efforts to reduce health disparities throughout the city. The "Seed Library” creates a place where community-contributed ideas meet best practices in health education and food system change to plant the “seeds” of transformation to grow a healthier and more sustainable city. Events will provide opportunities for community conversation related to health education and disparities, gardening, food security, public land use, neighborhood and community organizing, and public health initiatives. Participants will have opportunities to consider ways in which health awareness, fresh food and fitness activities can enhance the quality of life. The card catalogue will serve as a multi-functional object, being itself a platform where people can ask questions, form coalitions, publicize events, inform and self-organize.

Presentation Content

All presenters will discuss their perspective on the seed library platform, including how it fits into a design practice that links the aesthetic and the social for sustainable outcomes; how it informs the role of a contemporary library; and how it is a community engagement/creative place-making strategy. Images of the retrofitted library card catalogue and its drawers that have become repositories for innovative urban agricultural ideas, information on community gardens, food related health initiatives, urban farms, seed saving programs and food justice initiatives will be shown and discussed. 

Key Questions

How can an art- and design-infused card catalogue become a platform for conversation, questioning and coalition-building in a community seeking to transform its local food systems? What role do libraries play in community systems transformation? 


Lunch and Informal Conversation

Friday, March 8, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.


Presentation of the Artists’ Prospectus for the Nation

Friday March 8, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m

The final session of the conference is devoted to the presentation and critical discussion of the prototype of the first installment of the Prospectus, addressing the themes of Nature, Health, Consumption and Justice.




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