2017 ArtsAccelerator Grant
Cat Peña will be attending the 2017 Open Engagement Conference which is dedicated to expanding the dialogue around and creating a site of care for the field of socially engaged art. This conference highlights the work of transdisciplinary artists, activists, students, scholars, community members, and organizations working within the complex social issues and struggles of our time.
My artwork seeks to incite social change in hopes of bringing self awareness to the viewer and to our surrounding social structures. The essence of my work is situated in art happenings, installations, collaborations, performances, and social sculptures that intersect art, the everyday, and public space. My creative process includes concept driven research, collaboration and creative problem solving to set the perimeters of what is possible prior to determining how a piece may look or function. In the past five years my artwork has largely extended outside of gallery and museum settings in pieces that range from ephemeral, participatory, large temporary public artworks to creating platforms that explore collaborative practices within new genre public art.
Recent subjects of interest are; tactics of play, generosity and reciprocity, sustainability, humans relationship to the natural world, social justice, and public engagement.
In addition I have begun to realize that my professional interests in public art, social practices and community engagement are starting to become my artistic practice.
While there is a strong art community in Memphis, I find my ideas and creative process more akin to that of a anthropologist or a public art organization; and while there are many art organizations in Memphis, I haven?t found an artist community I can bounce ideas off, discuss theory, seek funding and get feedback to further contextualize my artistic practice in the larger field of art. It is from these limitations that I conceptualized a creative platform called Collabortory which offers an alternative method to traditional public art and creates a framework where artistic methodologies and practices are no longer marginalized in conversations of reanimating or defining the physical, social or cultural spaces of cities.
Collabortory utilizes Participatory Action Research to bring creative research to the forefront of the commissioning process to give artists a better insight to the needs and wants of a site and/or a community prior to proposing a piece of artwork. Collabortory nomadically conducts extended periods of artist led paid collaborative creative research in ?Surveys? of various neighborhoods, sites and/or topics.