Arcadia University will welcome Creative Time Artistic Director Nato Thompson on Monday, Nov. 14, at 6:30 p.m. in the University Commons Great Room. In a free, public presentation, “The Infrastructure That Is People: Public Art and Its Social Dimensions,” Thompson will address the function of public art by focusing on the relationships that determine community, including the political, economic, and cultural dynamics that distinguish a given location. Employing examples from his years of work with artists and activists, his talk will address how the concerns of a population invested in the character of a particular site can be represented by public art. Thompson’s lecture will also draw on his recent writing to examine the means by which interventions in the social sphere can transform urban space, foster change, and offer platforms for resistance.
Thompson’s presentation is the concluding event in Arcadia University’s “Exploring Public Art: Legacy, Community, & Innovation,” a series of free programs held throughout the fall to engage the community in a public art project at the Glenside station. The final form of this project—to be completed in the summer of 2017 by Philadelphia-based muralist David Guinn in conjunction with a class at Arcadia—will be determined with direct input from the Glenside community.
While this event is free and open to the public, reservations are suggested.
About the speaker:
Nato Thompson is chief curator at Creative Time, a New York-based institution that for over 40 years has commissioned and presented art projects solely for the public realm with thousands of visual and performing artists throughout New York, across the country, and around the world. Widely regarded for his innovative work within the fields of contemporary art and social activism, Thompson joined Creative Time in 2007. A sampling of his major projects for the organization include The Creative Time Summit (2009-2015) an annual conference on the intersection of art and social justice; Kara Walker’s A Subtlety (2014), an installation featuring a colossal, sphinx-like female figure coated with sugar presented at Brooklyn’s Domino Sugar Factory; and Living as Form (2011) an international project exploring 20 years of works blurring art and everyday life presented at New York’s historic Essex Street Market Building. In 2009, working with New Museum curators Laura Hoptman and Amy Mackie, Thompson presented Jeremy Deller’s It Is What It Is, the traveling presentation of a car that had been demolished in Baghdad during the Iraq War. (The project toured across the U. S, including a stop in Philadelphia hosted by Slought.) Among the most memorable of Thompson’s efforts for Creative Time is his presentation of Paul Chan’s Waiting for Godot in New Orleans (2007), an outdoor staging of Samuel Beckett’s play in the Lower Ninth Ward and Gentilly following Hurricane Katrina.
Thompson’s current Creative Time project, Doomocracy, an installation by artist Pedro Reyes on view at the Brooklyn Army Terminal until Nov. 6, uses the “bleak metaphor” of the quintessential American haunted house as a vehicle to engage audiences in the current political climate, as reviewed by the New York Times.
Before joining Creative Time, Thompson worked as a curator at MASS MoCA, where he completed numerous, large-scale exhibitions. Named the 2005 recipient of the Art Journal Award for distinguished writing, Thompson has contributed to Bookforum, Frieze, Art Forum, Third Text, and Huffington Post, among many other publications. He has authored two books of cultural criticism, Seeing Power: Art and Activism in the 21st Century (2015) and Culture as Weapon: The Art of Influence in Everyday Life, to be released in January 2017.