9 November 2019
Mary Jane Jacob, author of Dewey for Artists (University of Chicago Press, 2018) has been invited to Newcastle by the BxNU Institute. Taking advantage of this, we are organising a workshop that departs from Jacob’s scholarship to build bridges between disciplines interested in/using pragmatism to usefully inform art studies and practice (and to develop the ongoing concerns of BxNU). In inviting scholars of philosophy, gender, architecture and planning, we seek to bridge the gap between disciplines in order to experiment with future idea of settlement, sociality and ways of living together through the arts.
Hull House, a settlement community building co-founded by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr opened in Chicago’s Near West Side in 1889, and was supported amongst others by John Dewey and associated with the Pragmatist School of Philosophy. At Hull House a culture of education, art, economics and other social and practical knowledges and skills training was developed by a community of ‘university women’ like Addams and Starr for and in collaboration with working class women and children from Chicago’s poorest and often immigrant neighbourhoods. Funded by middle class patronage, Hull House offered practical education designed in partnership with people from the neighbourhood as well as cultural provision in the form of printing, book binding, ceramics and artistic training. The settlement had an art gallery and a lecture hall. People from different places and experiences lived and worked together.
Using the lens of Hull House we want to look at the relation between education institutions and galleries/arts centres from a pragmatist perspective in order to identify practices and methodologies that differentiate the feminist-pragmatist educational routines and cultural beliefs of Addams and Starr (and to a lesser extent Dewey) from the development of participation and social engagement that has since emerged in the cultural sector. Since arts institutions are expected to produce for themselves an increasingly civic role, is Hull House a forerunner to forms of social engagement that depend on liberal patronage of the poor, or does the feminist pragmatist (‘knowing through doing’) approach established by Addams and Starr offer an alternative route into creating spaces of equality of access and rights to creativity?
Dr Julie Crawshaw, Senior Lecturer, Department of Art, Northumbria University
Professor Andrea Phillips, Department of Art, Northumbria University