Art and Public Action

The making and viewing of art has always played a critical role in the transformation of culture and society. Throughout history, artists have reflected upon and responded to the events of their time, imagining new pathways toward an unknown future. Art and Public Action bridges public art practices and new forms of direct engagement and exchange in order to provide undergraduate, graduate students and citizens-at-large the capacities essential to the conception and making of socially, civically engaged public art. Faculty and students draw upon diverse disciplines including the arts, social sciences, business, science, engineering, computer science, design, and more in order to explore complex issues and successfully realize creative work. Examples of this can be seen from courses as wide-ranging as a commission from the U.S. State Department for the public art installation at the new U.S. Embassy in Oslo, Norway, to an ongoing social practice in art course focused on collaborating with local residents of the town of Bennington, to a Sister Cities Project in the Philippines, to a collaboration between a photographer and an anthropologist on documenting the impacts of the war in Afghanistan. Outside partners include governmental agencies and NGOs, business, arts and culture leaders, local residents, and organizations from the region and beyond.

Current Programs

MFA in Public Action | Newly launched (Fall 2018), the Masters of Fine Arts in Public Action is a highly selective graduate degree program designed to give accomplished artists working as agents of social change the time, space, and focus to conduct research and develop new work.

Speculative Solidarities | Interventions and Activations across Bennington's campus and beyond, in collaboration with Autonomous Mechanics Studio + Lab

CAPA Improvisation Archive | This initiative aims to identify the commonalities and distinct discoveries across disciplines on the use of improvisation and its meaning and relevance in today’s landscape where productive argument and engagement need to be encouraged.

Past Programs

CreateNow | This podcast explores creative and generative approaches to changing the systems that rule our world. Guests come from a myriad of different disciplines and practices, but they all share one thing in common: they are people who are creatively rethinking and remaking sectors once thought unchangeable.

Empty Bowls | In conversation with regional food issues, a CAPA/Visual Arts course joined with members of the Bennington community to make hundreds of ceramic bowls for the Bennington Empty Bowls Soup Supper.

Future Studio | Future Studio is a creative space that seeks to incubate the next generation of enterprise leaders, entrepreneurs and artists together. The studio celebrates cross-sector engagement from the arts, business, and non-profits as essential for tackling complex challenges and remaking the systems that govern our world. Future Studio engages generative creativity in order to move us from speculative dreaming and problem solving towards the realization of a more equitable and just future.

Art in Embassies: Oslo | The U.S. State Department’s Art in Embassies program partnered with a CAPA class to design Arctic Shift, a large-scale outdoor sculpture, surrounding plantings, and a selection of visual complexity graphics for the new U.S. Embassy in Oslo, Norway.