Walker Art Center

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Mack Lecture: Mary Jane Jacob

Artists speak passionately about working with the public; curators, stretching their practices, have found it rewarding; and audiences are changed. Then why are critics so averse to considering the lived experience of the participant-viewers? Can’t we look to human nature as well as sociopolitical theories or art histories? Drawing on the writings of John Dewey, author/curator Mary Jane Jacob addresses the process and aim of the art experience and ways that it motivates people to join in artists’ social projects.

Through hundreds of exhibitions, site-specific and community-based projects, and public programs, Jacob has actively worked with artists to expand the practice and public discourse of art as a shared process. Her study into the nature of the art experience has lead to a trio of anthologies: Buddha Mind in Contemporary Art, Learning Mind: Experience into Art, and Chicago Makes Modern: How Creative Minds Changed Society. As professor and executive director of exhibitions and exhibition studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Jacob is currently spearheading a major research project on Chicago social practice and authoring a book titled Dewey for Artists.

Copresented with the University of Minnesota Department of Art.


Mack Lectures are made possible by Aaron and Carol Mack.

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