David Loewenstein: Art Intervention as Social Practice

    • IMG_8176
    • Presentation speakers
      • Thor J. Mednick, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, USA


    This presentation focuses on the use of art as a means of social interventional in the United States, focusing specifically on the writings and practice of Kansas-based community artist David Loewenstein. While there is some support for public art in the United States, it is primarily a private enterprise. Loewenstein collaborates regularly with government-funded agencies like the Mid-America Arts Alliance, and non-governmental organizations like the U.S. Department of Art and Culture, a grass-roots movement for creative change; as such, Loewenstein’s career provides an interesting example of the constant negotiation between private and public interests required of a practitioner in this field. It also indicates the extent to which a practitioner must see him/herself primarily as a facilitator of change for the community, rather than a motivating agent. It is a basic tenet of Loewenstein’s approach that for a community art project to have integral value, the needs it addresses must emerge from, and be articulated by, the members of the community themselves. In a series of mural projects organized by his Mid-America Mural Project, Loewenstein has developed a system for enabling community self-empowerment that is significant for the study of urban planning, politics, economics, and social enfranchisement, and also has useful application to the question of art as cultural diplomacy in present-day Europe.