Social Practice Art

At Southwest Michigan Second Wave, we've been looking for an angle on the arts that is unique to our publication and also leans toward using a solutions-oriented lens. We were fortunate to connect with a local young writer and artist, Maya James. Maya, who last year was awarded the Vanguard Prize at Art Prize, shared with us that an artist mentor of hers had recently identified Maya as a 'social practice artist,' which for her was a pivotal moment. She said she suddenly understood there was a name for what she had been doing with her art and writing since the death of George Floyd and the subsequent outcry and protests.

We decided together that her writing angle for us would be with the lens of 'social practice art.' Maya dedicated her first article to defining what that term meant, as well as writing about her artistic journey. Maya's second article, which is about Nicole Lee, a female artist of color who recently opened an art business in Portage, will be published this Thursday. In addition to writing the article, Maya also created a piece of artwork to accompany it — a portrait of the artist whom she interviewed. We're excited to see how this collaboration evolves.
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