Social practice is an art medium that focuses on engagement through human interaction and social discourse. Since it is people and their relationships that form the medium of such works — rather than a particular process of production — social engagement is not only a part of a work’s organization, execution or continuation, but also an aesthetic in itself: of interaction and development. Socially engaged art aims to create social and/or political change through collaboration with individuals, communities, and institutions in the creation of participatory art. The discipline values the process of a work over any finished product or object.

— Wikipedia

Adam served as Education Director at AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, NH from 2008–2016. This selection of social practice pieces occurred at this time. Seen as a single ambition, these projects describe a local ecology of social relationships bound through the arts. The following projects unite artists; art teachers; art students; youths, teens, adults, and seniors; nonprofits; for profits; the public and private education systems; local farms and agriculture; public transportation; health, wellness, and aging organizations; the largest hospital in the region; the media; the municipal government; and even the National Park system — all in the spirit of participatory art-making. Art can be more than an object for sale on the wall of a gallery. Click the photos below for greater detail.

Of note, these social practice pieces took place during the depths of the Great Recession and in the years shortly thereafter — a unique time in nonprofit arts administration. When the financial markets crashed, arts foundations’ principal contracted with them. And the few grant resources available for community projects disappeared. Nimble arts organizations innovated by looking for new and unusual partnerships across market segments, combining interests to achieve larger ambitions than any single organization accomplish alone. These collaborations brought people together through a passion for making, and in doing so, fostered a renewed sense of community and a local pride of place. The artworks produced in these projects were often ephemeral by design and inexpensive by necessity, emphasizing playful relationships and art-making over the resultant physical outcomes.

Click around. Take these project ideas or inspiration from them, and try them where you live. Anything is possible with creativity, care, and enthusiasm. If you are interested in learning how these projects were funded, email Adam for more information.

A selection of the projects below have been recognized by the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, the Vermont Arts Council, and the New England Foundation for the Arts.

Upper Valley Buses Become Free Art Galleries 2013
Social Practice Inside Out DHMC Silhouettes
Social Practice Free Community Coloring Book Printed in the Valley News Newspaper
Social Practice Yarnbomb Colburn Park Lebanon NH Valley News Front Page
Social Practice Mudroom at AVA
Social Practice Hands on Pianos Hopkins Center WalMart
Social Practice Sunday Soup Randall Szott
Social Practice AVA Saint-Gaudens Sculptural Visions 500 Sculptures
Adam Blue Cookbook 2314 Cover Illustration Dystopia Future Recipes
Paper Lanterns AVA Social Practice
Social Practice Miniature Installation in the Field Sculpture
Social Practice Hand Decorated Coffee Cup Sleeves
Social Practice Prints Upper Valley Humane Society
Social Practice Dartmouth Aging Resource Center Memoir and Poetry
Social Practice Kyudo Zen Archery Workshops
Social Practice Nile Project AVA Art Music Education
Adam Blue Road to Arrowhead Book Cover Horror Madness Civil War Art
Social Practice Vermont Creative Summit Presentation
Social Practice Printmaking Grocery Bags Free Art
Social Practice Teen Mural Project Organic Farming
Social Practice Halloween Clay Plaster Sculpture
Social Practice Linocut Greeting Cards