AIC RSS Greater Boston Maine Pioneer Valley Rhode Island
This website is an archive of previous AIC activities.

Click here to link to the current AIC website.


Presenter Bios and Case Studies

Bonus Essay


Conference Report


Connected and Consequential: Generating New Art Ecologies

Free Conference with 4 sessions
Saturday, November 12, 9am-5pm
Northampton, MA

Session 1: Art at Work; Police, Nurses, Clerks and Politicians.

Artist Marty Pottenger presents Art at Work, an ongoing project that has provided art making to civic employees in Portland Maine. Designed as a national initiative, Art at Work gives municipal governments the powerful resource that comes from direct creative engagement
(9am-11am Smith College Student Center room 103/104)
Session 2: What Difference?

Framing the Work, Making the Case by Nationally known arts policy expert, founder of Animating Democracy, and Belchertown resident, Barbara Schaffer-Bacon. When artists work at the intersection of other fields for positive social outcomes, how do they describe their work to connect with partners, publics, and funders?
(11:15am-12:30pm Smith College Student Center room 103/104)
Session 3: Hybrid Practice;

3 Case Studies in Creative Spatial Engagement. Valley Artists and Designers Joseph Krupcyznski, Lisa DePiano and Young Min Moon present their work. Kathy Couch moderates this session about space, place, people and practice.
(1:30pm-3:30pm Dynamite Space-Thorne’s Marketplace)
Session 4: Hands-On Research Methods in Alt-Mapping.

Geographer and Artist Marie Cieri, of Artists in Context, presents an interactive workshop.
(3:30pm -4:30pm Dynamite Space-Thorne’s Marketplace)

AIC is pleased to partner with Smith College Departments of Art and Theatre, C3, Northampton Arts Council and Valley Art Share to bring you Connected and Consequential: Generating New Art Ecologies.
Visit Valley Art Share ( to see an online art show curated from the VAS archives in conjunction with Connected and Consequential, beginning November 1, 2011

Marty Pottenger

Director Art At Work, Executive Director Terra Moto Inc.

Writer, performer, director and activist Marty Pottenger, a pioneer in the community arts and civic dialogue movement, has been making theater since 1975. Her work has been produced throughout the US and Europe. The New York Times described her OBIE-winning “City Water Tunnel #3” as “Lyrical...speaking with intimate knowledge, and yes, even love...a blending of Studs Terkel, Anna Deavere Smith and Pete Seeger.” Written from interviews with over 30 millionaires and 30 minimum wage workers, her play ABUNDANCE was named by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as “one of 2003’s ten best plays”. In the days following 9/11, international media covered two of her street art projects, ‘Forty Signs’ and ‘Gandhi’, making it clear that New Yorkers wanted peace not war. Longtime activist in labor, low income housing, women’s liberation and eliminating racism, Pottenger has been nominated for an Alpert and a USA Artists awards. Board Chair of American Festival Project and original collective member of Heresies magazine, she has been a fellow at the New York Foundation for the Arts and Headlands Arts Center fellow. Publications include Citizen Artist, Yale Theater Journal and Forbes Magazine. Her work has been received generous and critical support from Nathan Cummings Foundation, Lila Wallace Readers Digest Fund, Ford Foundation, andtheRockefellerFoundation.In2007, Pottenger founded Art At Work Project, a national initiative to integrate the transformative power of direct creative engagement into the policies and practices of municipal governments.

From 1998 to 2004, I led a national community arts project called ABUNDANCE: America and Money. ABUNDANCE’s design included research, interviews, performances and talkbacks all over the USA, including the Pioneer Valley. Core research included one-on-one interviews with 30 multi- millionaires and 30 minimum wage workers, but by 2004, over 5000 had answered the questions - “What is enough? And what would be enough for you?”

I learned a good deal about the many cultures of inequity, the intimate and societal impacts of “have more’edness” and “have less’edness,” the concrete and imaginary mechanisms of the economy itself and the experiences of thousands of human beings all along the economic continuum. But the single biggest insight was seeing the remarkable impact on each participant from creating a simple ‘refrigerator poem’ in answer to “What’s your earliest memory connected to money in any way at all?”

The results were startling. People from dramatically different levels of resource – from undocumented laborers to people with significant inherited wealth - were able to fully show themselves on a challenging topic, access an intelligence, a courage, a sense of connection and hope, and manifest an ability to hold contradictions...all from the experience of making art.

At the time I was also Board Chair of the American Festival Project, a national pioneer in arts and social justice projects, that is headquartered in Appalachia. Coincidentally, we were preparing for our Arts & Democracy Convening, so I organized and facilitated a workshop that focused on ways that artists based in social justice might address the approaching economic collapse.

The two organizations/institutions that I thought would be able to play a critical role were unions and municipal governments. For several reasons, I decided that municipal governments were in a stronger position to both help protect the most vulnerable people from some of the harsher impacts and to help foster and implement some of the new ideas that will be proposed about how to build an equitable society. The workshop was called “Performance to Policies to Practices: putting the power of artmaking to work in municipal government.”

It took another four years to be invited by the City of Portland Maine to see if the idea could work. On April Fool’s Day 2007, I moved to Portland from NYC, to join the staff as Director of Art At Work in the City Manager’s office. To improve extremely low morale, the police have written over 100 poems; to address racism, Public Service workers have created prints about their heritages that hang in garages, offices, wastewater treatment plants; to improve retention rates, nursing assistants have created story collages about their work and lives in staff lunchrooms. Several projects have received local, regional, national and international attention. And in the last two years I have met with city leaders in Los Angeles, Tucson, Providence, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Austin and Seattle, exploring what Art At Work might be able to accomplish there.

ART AT WORK is a national initiative to give municipal governments the powerful resource that comes from direct creative engagement. We begin by interviewing key stakeholders to identify critical challenges. We then design a strategic arts project to address that issue with city workers, elected officials and union members. The process of making art – poetry, collages, photographs, theater or music – dramatically increases participants’ ability to actively engage, function as a team, analyze complex challenges, integrate contradictory perspectives, envision a positive outcome and be willing to take inspired risks that lead to innovative solutions.

ART AT WORK/Portland has succeeded in fostering a culture of collaboration that has directly involved over two hundred city employees and more than fifty local artists. City employees have created hundreds of original artworks, performances, poetry readings and civic dialogues that have engaged over 25,000 people in the region and reached over a million people through local and major media outlets. The city workers’ posters, photographs, prints and poems hang in galleries, city parking garages, lunchrooms, recycling centers, police stations, libraries, conference rooms and maintenance shops, increasing civic awareness, respect and pride.

Created by the arts non-profit Terra Moto Inc, and led by the award-winning theater artist Marty Pottenger, ART AT WORK has been possible by the generous support of the Nathan Cummings Foundation. In 2011, AAW was selected by the National Endowment for the Arts for its national Our Town Initiative, as well as nominated in 2010 for a National League of Cities Best Practices award. ART AT WORK is currently focused on partnering with three more cities this year and its two citywide Portland projects – Meeting Place and Portland Works.

The biggest asset that any city has is its human capital. And one of humanity’s most powerful resources is creativity.
- Marty Pottenger

Barbara Schaffer Bacon

co-Director Animating Democracy

Animating Democracy, a program of Americans for the Arts that inspires, informs, promotes, and connects arts and culture as potent contributors to community, civic, and social change. Barbara has written, edited, and contributed to many publications including Civic Dialogue, Arts & Culture: Findings from Animating Democracy; Case Studies from Animating Democracy; Animating Democracy: The Artistic Imagination as a Force for Civic Dialogue; Fundamentals of Local Arts Management; and The Cultural Planning Work Kit. Barbara has delivered presentations and workshops for cultural, nonprofit, and foundation leaders nationally and internationally in Canada, Australia, and England.    Since 1990, She has worked as a consultant in program design and evaluation for state and local arts agencies and private foundations nationally and has served as a panelist and adviser for many state and national arts agencies. Barbara previously served as executive director of the Arts Extension Service at the University of Massachusetts. She was recently appointed by the Governor Deval Patrick to serve as a member of the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She is president of the Arts Extension Institute, Inc. Barbara served for 14 years on the Belchertown, MA school committee. She was born and raised and has raised her children in western Massachusetts.

Animating Democracy works to inspire, inform, promote, and connect arts as a contributor to community, civic, and social change. Our overarching goal is to create more opportunities for arts and culture to be an integral and effective part of solutions to the challenges communities face and to the effort to ensure a healthy democracy. We place high value on learning from and building capacity and visibility for practitioners’ work on the ground. As a program of Americans for the Arts (AFTA), Animating Democracy also brings to bear AFTA’s unique strengths in research, policy, professional development, visibility, and advocacy in its work. These assets enable Animating Democracy to advance and elevate arts for change work at the local and national level and with cross-sector allies.

We routinely connect and collaborate with other organizations and field leaders working at the heart of arts for change in order to draw on their expertise and different perspectives in the planning and implementation of our programs and services. We focus our work in four core areas:

1. Opportunities and Resources – Identify, develop and advocate for public and private sector policies, funding, and initiatives that advance the role and better integrate the talents of artists and cultural organizations toward helping people engage in civic and community life. We provide technical assistance and education that promulgate quality leading edge practices.

2. Research and Evaluation – Build a body of research that advances field and cross-sector knowledge and evidence that demonstrates how the arts foster civic engagement and contribute to healthy communities and a vital democracy.

3. Messaging and Case making – Generate greater visibility for how arts- based strategies fuel community building and problem solving by disseminating compelling stories and evidence of the arts’ contribution to social impact.

4. Strategic Alliances – Advance strategic alliances that promote and establish common cause and joint endeavors between the arts and other sectors of public life.

Joseph Krupczynski

Associate Professor in the Architecture + Design Program University of Massachusetts Amherst

Joseph is a practicing architectural designer, artist and educator and the director of “studio projects”, an interdisciplinary design studio focusing on the links between design, culture and art through public and private design commissions, installations, public art and engaged research. He is also a founding director of The Center for Design Engagement, a 501(c)(3) design outreach center that advocates for innovative and sustainable design solutions for community- based organizations in Western Massachusetts. His work values collaborative and critical community engagement—and essential to this social practice is a conviction that investigative spatial and programmatic explorations make explicit issues of social, cultural, and community identity.

Recent projects include: “Movable Feast” (2010), a public art project to promote food system change; the exhibition and graphic design for “Greening The Valley: Sustainable Architecture in the Pioneer Valley” (2010), an exhibition at the University Gallery at UMass Amherst; and “Exchange/Value,” (2009), the design of an installation, in collaboration with photographer Wendy Ewald and social activist/artist Rick Lowe that explores community- based economies in Amherst MA. His grant funded projects include: the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), the U.S. Office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through its Community Outreach Partnership Center (COPC) grants; the American Institute of Architects Blueprint for America Grant; and internal grants from the University of Massachusetts Amherst through the office of Community Service Learning and the College of Humanities and Fine Arts.

He was awarded the UMass Amherst Distinguished Outreach Teaching Award in 2011, and in 2007 he was awarded the “Faculty Making a Difference in the Community” Award by The Five College Committee for Community-Based Learning. He received the “College Outstanding Teaching Award” from the College of the Humanities and Fine Arts at UMass Amherst in 2006; and was awarded a “Historic Northampton Recognition Award” by the Northampton Historic Commission in 2003.

“Movable Feast” and “How Can We...” are both projects that have grown out of collaborations with    strong    community-based organizations, respectively Nuestras Raices in Holyoke, and ADP (Alliance to Develop Power) in Springfield. I could not imagine these projects happening without the perseverance, innovation and commitment these organizations have for the communities they serve.
“Movable Feast” evolved as a community-based public art project on the subject of “food” for the University Museum of Contemporary Art (UMCA) at UMass Amherst (and was part of a larger effort by local museums to thematically link concurrent exhibitions around food culture). In recent years I have been working with Nuestras Raices, a non-profit organization in Holyoke Massachusetts that promotes economic and community development through their network of community gardens, urban farming, and micro- businesses. I knew this organization would be an excellent collaborative partner for such a project since their work is “food” and “community” focused. So I started a conversation with the director of Nuestras Raices and asked what projects they were developing that I might con- tribute to in a public art context. In those conversations I learned that, through their work with the Holyoke Food and Fitness Policy Council, they had identified the development of mobile markets/kitchens as one of their outreach priorities (whose primary objective is to reach low-income neighborhoods in the region with poor access to fresh fruits and vegetables) and they were planning on pur- chasing a food trailer for that use. Once we knew that the food trailer would be the subject/object of this project, “Moveable Feast” was born.

“How Can We...” emerged in a similar context of conversation and reflection. I had been working with ADP since 2010 through one of my design engagement studios at UMass, and we had recently re-started our on-going conversation about renovating their headquarters in Springfield—then in June 2011 a tornado hit the downtown area and their building was damaged. Miraculously they were not subject to the devastation that many neighboring buildings sustained, and which caused those buildings to be condemned and demolished. So in this con- text of newly vacant lots surrounding ADP and a strong desire to be a catalytic force in a nascent re-building effort, “How Can We...” emerged as an operative question, guiding principle and public art strategy. The project establishes a con- text for ADP to return to their building (they are currently in temporary offices in Holyoke) through a program of community events/projects: a parade, a video projection project, a community garden, a film series and a makeshift studio to conduct community interviews to be pod-cast.

These programs reflect ADP’s own efforts as an organization to create a sustain- able community economy that leverages power, relationships, and resources in their work for social and economic justice.
Each of these projects is inspired by the idea that art can expand conventional notions of people, place and the art-making process. They are part of a broader effort to create works through participatory processes where the works’ visual and physical characteristics grow out of a collaborative engagement with a com- munity. This process allows for the production of “things” (conversations, meals, informal performances, effects) that are transformed into “artworks” within this broadened framework. The projects are an artistic production that also works as a collective learning project—promoting internal reflection, horizontal exchange, and creative vertical collaborations and partnerships—that bridge the gap be- tween the aesthetic and social dimensions of the work.

Lisa DePiano

Lisa is a certified permaculture designer/teacher and faculty member for the Yestermorrow Design/ Build School. She is co-founder of the Montview Neighborhood Farm, a human powered urban-farm and edible forest garden in the Connecticut River Valley, and rides with the worker-owned collective Pedal People. She received her masters degree in Regional Planning from the University of Massachusetts and loves working with communities to create the world they want to live in. After escaping the suburbs of her youth she headed to the hills of West Virginia and became a community organizer working on issues of Mountain Top Removal, Militarism, Fair Trade and Global Justice. She discovered permaculture while living in Guatemala and was immediately drawn to its systems and solutions-based approach. For the last decade she has been sharing this passion with others. She has studied permaculture with Starhawk, Penny Livingston Stark, and Dave Jacke and has taught all over the United States, including the Menominee Nation, Homer, AK, New York City, Miami, FL the University of Vermont, University of Massachusetts, and Wesleyan University.

Mobile Design Lab’s OWS greywater system    is an answer to a call put out by the General Assembly at Occupy Wall Street. They were looking for an ecological way to deal with the waste water produced by the kitchen that has been feeding thousands of people 3 free meals a day in Zuccoti Park. The project is a living collaborative installation between a web of NYC based permaculture designers and Mobile Design Lab. It was born out of conversations that took place while we traveled through the city gathering materials, fueled by desperation, anger, and a desire to demonstrate to the world that something else is possible.

Like ecological systems themselves the OWS greywater system serves many functions. Part functional, the micro-biology living at the roots of the plants serve to take up excess nutrients, keeping them from entering fresh waterways and instead using them to fertigate, fertilize and irrigate the trees and mums in the park.

Part educational, as each step in the process is highlighted with signs and often times someone explaining how it works.

Part spectacle, somewhere between “weird science experiment” and a “green oasis” amongst the cardboard signs and sleeping bags.

Part experiment, not only in how to create a lightweight, movable system. But in how to create collaboratively, letting go and watching as it responds and adapts to change.

Perhaps most importantly, it is part catalyst, an invitation for people to come together to share our common grievances and to dare to imagine and create something different. To discover a way for us to take responsibility for the actions that have come before us. To say no to throwing problems down the drain for someone else to deal with. A collective re- framing of waste as a resource, by using the waste of the current system to build a new one.


Based in Seoul, South Korea, Mixrice is an artist collective founded in 2002. Mixrice has engaged with the migrant workers residing in South Korea. In addition to their solo exhibitions at Space Pool in Seoul, Mixrice has exhibited their work in the major exhibitions The Battle of Vision in Darmstadt, Germany; Activating Korea: Tides of Collective Action at Govett Brewster Gallery, New Zealand, and Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, South Korea, among many others.

Since 2002, Mixrice, the artist collective, has pursued social interventionist activities and collaborative projects with a group of undocumented Asian migrant workers in South Korea. Utilizing photographic and media recordings, comics, murals, and texts in the form of exhibitions, publications, and the Web, they engage the question of the Other within the context of an ostensibly monoethnic South Korean culture. Through their critical practice of working with members of a transnational community, Mixrice probes the issues of human rights and the ethics and roles of the artist in a volatile sociopolitical environment.

Young Min Moon

Young Min Moon is an artist and critic who exhibited his work in Seoul, Canada, and the U.S. In 2006 Moon published a Korean-English bilingual catalogue (Hyunsil Cultural Studies, Seoul) for his curatorial project Incongruent: Contemporary Art from South Korea, a traveling exhibition in several university galleries in the U.S. Moon has also published his essay on Mixrice in the journal Rethinking Marxism, and another essay on the politics of curating in Contemporary Art in Asia: A Critical Reader from the MIT Press. He is Associate Professor in the Department of Art, Architecture and Art History at University of Massachusetts Amherst.


Kathy Couch

For 17 years, Kathy Couch has been designingandcreatingvisuallandscapes in performance and installation works. Primarily working in the mediums of light and space, Couch has designed over 350 performances in New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Australia, Armenia, Russia, Latvia, Serbia and throughout New England. Creating installations and designs for a variety of traditional and non-traditional spaces, Couch’s artistic practice focuses on the vital role of the audience/viewer as active contributors to the work. Kathy Couch has ongoing performance collaborations with Yanira Castro + Co., Kinodance, Candice Salyers, The Architects and Chimaera Physical Theater. As a member of the creative team for Yanira Castro + Co’s Dark Horse/Black Forest, Couch received a 2009 Bessie Award. Most recently, she collaborated with choreographer and video artist Wendy Woodson in the creation of Belonging: Reflections on Place, a video installation for the Immigration Museum of Melbourne (Australia). Kathy Couch currently teaches Lighting Design at Amherst College and recently received an MFA in Visual Arts from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is a founding board member of the Northampton Community Arts Trust that seeks innovative ways to preserve arts space in Northampton, MA and a member of the arts organization C3, a creative community collective.

Marie Cieri

Artists in Context Co-Director

From 2004 – 2008, Marie was assistant professor of social geography and critical cartography at The Ohio State University. In her current work, she combines geographic techniques and perspectives with ones drawn from the arts and popular culture to create alternative represent- ations of space and place from the perspective of populations who generally have little access to the tools and forums of the public sphere. Before becoming a geographer, Cieri had a diverse career as an arts producer, curator, consultant and writer. She was the founder and from 1987-present has been the director of The Arts Company, a non-profit organization based in Cambridge, MA, that collaborates with contemporary artists on the production, presentation and touring of new work in a variety of artforms. Her freelance work has included long-term cultural projects for The Rockefeller Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The Kitchen in New York City. She also has held professional positions at Walker Art Center, the New England Foundation for the Arts and two daily newspapers. Among her publications are two books, including Activists Speak Out: Reflections on the Pursuit of Change in America (2000, Palgrave/St. Martin’s Press), which contains activist profiles from a variety of fields, including the arts. Currently, Cieri is a critic in graduate studies at Rhode Island School of Design and a consultant on a number of projects dealing with the arts, freedom of information and/or social justice. She also is working on a new book entitled Irresolvable Geographies, explor- ing the idea that spaces and places are continually constructed and contested from cultural, economic and political points of view.


Julia Handschuh

Guest Essayist

Julia Handschuh is an artist and organizer who works at the intersection of dance, installation art and writing. She draws dismantling buildings, lives in a cabin off the grid, plays in porcelain and paper and travels by bike and hitch. She’s learning to articulate how each of these things are improvisational and site-specific in their own right. She received a BFA in performance and installation from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University and Masters in Performance Studies from New York University where she wrote on improvisational dance, ecology and the politics of space. She is a recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Community College and Continuing Graduate Scholar awards and has exhibited her work in New York, Boston, Key West, Oaxaca, Mexico, and Quebec, Canada.