By: Eva M. Olson, Michael Brenson, Mary Jane Jacob
Seattle: Bay Press, 1995
Format: Archival PDF, 300 DPI
We made this PDF copy of Culture In Action, together with Leah Mackin, because of how important we think it is; and we have a strong desire to share it inexpensively with others. This book has long been out of print. It chronicles a watershed exhibition that unleashed new forms of making art—in those days most commonly referred to as "socially engaged art”—that partnered national and local artists with community groups in Chicago to explore a range of issues like: empowering west side latino youth through making their own media, providing people with HIV/AIDS with bacteria free vegetables grown in storefront hydroponic garden, helping workers co-run their own chocolate production, and more. There were a variety of public projects that engaged diverse communities and produced highly experimental forms that considered not only making art, but the kinds of expansive community and social experiences that could also be generated.
Culture In Action had an enormous impact on Temporary Services, our local peers, and a large number of groups and artists around the planet. Since this publication, and the exhibition it chronicles, there has been an explosion in the number of artists working in similar manners.
The curator of Culture In Action was Mary Jane Jacob. Participants include our former professor, Bob Peters; our mentors in group work, Haha, whose contribution Flood continues to inspire us and serves as an ethical reference point; Suzanne Lacy, Mark Dion, Kate Ericson and Mel Ziegler, Daniel J. Martinez, Simon Grennan and Christopher Sperandio, and Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle with what was later to become Street Level Youth Media, an extremely important organization in the history of Chicago’s socially engaged art history.