Work from Social Practices in Art by Brooke Morrison '15, Nathan Paul '15, and Rocco Farano '16
BENNINGTON ANSWERS is a project developed in fall 2014 by Brooke Morrison '15, Nathan Paul '15, and Rocco Farano '16. For several months, we focused on engaging in conversation with individuals from the community in order to better understand Bennington. What we found was a lively community committed to the town. Many people seemed to have concerns, but many also had ambitious and adept ideas for handling them. We collected these concerns as QUESTIONS and collected the ambitions as ANSWERS to develop this project. We hope to continue our conversations and invite even more people to share their ideas. We are interested in creating artworks like Bennington Answers that initiate dialogue and further communal action.
The project aims to inspire positive, action-oriented engagement and dialogue by highlighting ideas and projects within the Bennington community. The project has three main components:
Have conversations with various members of the Bennington community. Ask about a concern in the town that's on their mind, have them form the concern into a question, then ask for a hypothetical answer or a reference to an existing project that addresses the question.
Put questions and answers on posters around the town.
These posters link to a website (benningtonanswers.com) on which people can continue the discussion via forums for each idea, organized by subject. This site is a repository of community voices and a place to add new ones. People can comment directly on the site to posted content, or they can email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) with new contributions.
Community contributions have brought up ideas such as big art and music events to address downtown improvement, extensive mentoring programs, and volunteer vans for transportation to youth events. We have received very positive feedback, especially after being published in the Bennington Banner. One online commenter wrote, "Thank you so much for doing this—a great resource and community builder!" We are continuing to add more content regularly, and we look forward to continuing the project in the upcoming months.