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A Blade of Grass Fellow Sol Aramendi and immigrant day laborers, artists, organizers, developers, and lawyers created a collaborative smartphone app to fight wage theft. Image courtesy of RAVA Films.

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We believe that qualitative research and evaluation is an important tool for understanding both the aesthetic value of socially engaged art projects, and the effect they have on participants and other stakeholders’ lives. As part of the Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art and in partnership with the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs’ Public Artists in Residence, A Blade of Grass has built a library of research about a variety of ambitious projects–please explore select research below. 

Our field research is grounded in action research methodology. This approach studies an action while it’s in process by asking the artist to identify initial project goals and definitions of success, and then conducting interviews with participants and stakeholders to gather their perspectives on whether and how these goals are met. The primary goal of this research is to serve the artists and participants we partner with, as well as a broader field, in three ways. We want to capture the way an art project’s goals and definitions of success will inevitably evolve, and provide narratives of individual experiences that account for the subjective nature of these projects. Additionally, we hope that by sharing this research, we create a model that artists can use to document and better understand their own socially engaged art projects. 

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Forest Listening Rooms
Artist Brian Harnetty
Victoria Square Project
Artist Rick Lowe
Musician Brian Harnetty has created Forest Listening Rooms, bringing together Appalachian Ohioans across the political spectrum to share stories and critically listen to the sounds of their literal "common ground," the Wayne National Forest, as a means of building community in resistance to the environmental extraction that has historically harmed the region. Artist Rick Lowe worked with local, immigrant, and refugee communities in Athens, Greece in the midst of the Syrian refugee crisis to create Victoria Square Project (VSP). VSP is a shared public space that fosters belonging and models a future for Athens where diverse experiences and cultures are shared and embraced.
Artists Hello Velocity
The Reentry Think Tank
Artists Mark Strandquist and Courtney Bowles
Working collectively as Hello Velocity, artists JS Tan, Lukas Bentel, and Kevin Wiesner worked to create an e-commerce plugin that would ameliorate income inequality by allowing consumers to purchase products at a price proportionate to their income. Artists Mark Strandquist and Courtney Bowles instigated the Reentry Think Tank, an art and advocacy group that centers the experiences and leadership of the formerly incarcerated to challenge stereotypes, transform social services, and advocate for policy changes to prevent recidivism and better support those in reentry.
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