Frances Whitehead

Social Practice
Chamberlain Award, 2018

Artist Statement

Understanding the cultural imperative for artists to operate in a larger society and to contribute towards a sustainable future, I have come to think that artists might focus on strategies to re-imagine knowledge.

The question, “What Do Artists Know?” is the basis for this integrated creative platform, exploring and demonstrating how the expertise of artists can meaningfully contribute to the challenges of the future, and leading to the concept of the Embedded Artist, the Embedded Artwork, and the advent of the concept of the Public Artist.

Questions of bio-regionalism, co-creativity, and the Anthropocene animate this work, which considers the surrounding community, the landscape, and the interdependency of multiple ecologies in the post-industrial city. These investigations generate new models for collaborative civic art practice, transversing disciplines to engage with engineers, scientists, landscape architects, and urban planners to hybridize art, design, science, and civic engagement, for the public good.

While at Headlands

While at Headlands I will investigate the microclimate, flora, and ecology of the area as a means of reflection. Using direct observation, mapping, walking practices, and drawing, this intensive investigation of an unfamiliar locale will serve as a catalyst for understanding another place and other kinds of artistic practices, even as these initial steps are the beginning of a new creative project.

Specifically, how might an understanding of the Headlands, inform the ethics and aesthetics of my longstanding and ongoing work in the legacy cities of the Great Lakes Basin?

My work also engages the human ecology and the communities of practice with whom I share context. I am therefore equally interested in conversations and exchanges with artists doing other kinds of work, to further inform this investigation as a reflection of time, space, and context of the Marin Headlands.