Roz Crews is the 2017-2018 Artist in Residence at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Roz is a social practice artist who makes collaborative and participatory projects which manifest in a variety of forms including videos, installations, publications, exhibitions, performances, events, and workshops. Her recent projects revolve around experiential education and consider artistic research as the medium. She also makes drawings, poems, essays, found-object sculptures, and sometimes paintings, and she was a curatorial assistant at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art between 2014 and 2017.
In August, Roz co-curated the King School Museum of Contemporary Art’s International Art Fair as part of Converge 45 in Portland, Oregon. The kid-sized art fair was made in collaboration with Lisa Jarrett, Amanda Leigh Evans, Harrell Fletcher, and students from Portland State University and Martin Luther King Jr. School, and it featured seventeen art institutions plus children led tours, a Q & A panel with kids, and a collaborative performance between a ten year old and artist Chris Johanson. In July, she was an Artist in Residence at Etiquette in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she collaborated with Spencer Byrne-Seres to make 30 Under 30, a short documentary about youth culture in Santa Fe. The video features thirty people under the age of 30, and it was screened during a public event where all of the participants were invited and featured as honored guests. In May she published her third book, Can art inspire me to think critically about…? Art and social practice in public education, as part of her 2014-2017 position as the Artist in Residence in the Portland State University Housing and Residence Life Department in Portland, Oregon. The book features writing and posters created during workshops with students about the interdisciplinary uses of art in the Portland Art Museum alongside essays from the first eleven Distinguished Socially-Engaged Art(ist) Educators of the Region—Roya Amirsoleymani, Yaelle Amir, Stephanie Parrish, Ariana Jacob, Sheetal Prajapati, Coco Fusco, Kristan Kennedy, Ralph Pugay, Hannah Jickling and Helen Reed, and Libby Werbel.
Other recent projects include IMAGINE THERE’S A SNAKE IN EVERY PAINTING: A guide to thinking critically in the museum at the University Studies Department of Portland State University (2017), Protecting us from bigger problems (again) in Portland, Oregon (2017), The Institute of What’s Possible Today at the Institut für Alles Mögliche in Berlin (2017), Reading Quietly in Public at the MK Gallery in Portland, Oregon (2017), Neighborhood Dreams at the King School Museum of Contemporary Art in Portland, Oregon (2017), and December 2016/1998 at Gallery Protocol in Gainesville, Florida (2017).
She received her MFA from the Art and Social Practice MFA program at Portland State University, and she holds a BA in Anthropology with a concentration in Public Archaeology from New College of Florida.
The Center for Undisciplined Research
The Center for Undisciplined Research is a nine-month, decentralized “center" housed by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with support from the College of Visual and Performing Art, the Housing and Residence Education department, and the Provost’s Office. My name is Roz Crews, and as the UMASS Dartmouth 2017-2018 Artist in Residence, I am the founder and director of the Center for Undisciplined Research.
As an anthropology and visual art student in college, I found the strict lines of disciplined academia to be limiting. I searched for moments of intersection and overlap where I could explore things that were collaborative and multidisciplinary. The Center for Undisciplined Research is a utopic vision for expanded research practices based on my experiences as an undergraduate student. I will work with a self-selected group of students to form the central artistic research collective and learning community. The group will have agency to freely research and devise without concerning themselves with disciplinary rules, methods or expectations. As the director of the Center, my mission is to support students’ deep interests that may or may not exist within traditional disciplines, departments, or colleges in the university. The artistic research will intersect with social fields of study, such as anthropology, comedy, history, theater, sociology, urban studies, literature, ecology, gender studies, and biology, and in accordance with place-based education philosophy, we will focus on the local. Our group will meet regularly, throughout the year, as we define the Center and its goals. I will connect students to resources, people, and organizations in the community that might be relevant to their interests, and I also hope to challenge the notion that mastery and individualism are more useful than variety and collaboration. The Center will offer structures for students to participate in such as collaborative art installations, service learning opportunities, a regular newsletter, workshops, actions, lectures, and events, but it will also be built by the students themselves. Without their input and curiosity, the Center can not exist.
This project will be a stage for collective memory making, a container to hold inspiration and manifestations of our experiences, and a laboratory for researching the social, political, and environmental agents responsible for our world. Through focus groups and individual meetings, every first year resident on campus will be invited to participate in determining what topics we might research as a collective—anything from local history and ecology to Portuguese films and portrait photography. Once we’ve determined research topics, we will create a schedule for the full academic year that includes programs, events, workshops, and activities related to the students’ interests. The research process will incorporate many methods, and the findings will be non-conclusive, qualitative, and presented in a variety of forms such as publications, lectures, videos, and public or private installations. In addition to student participants, there will be opportunities for local organizations and people (historians, playwrights, painters, curators, scientists, neighbors, etc.) to partner with the Center on public programs and events.
University Centers are typically designed to traverse boundaries of departments and colleges, to provide points of intersection and interdisciplinary research. The Center for Undisciplined Research is an itinerant space that toes the boundaries of art and its capacity to serve as a tool for making meaning in the world. Its goal is to reassign value to the unstructured and loose ways we study people and places everyday, questioning what gets sanctioned as research. We also plan to interrogate disciplinary intersections, such as ethics and methods, to unpack how and why disciplines exist in the first place. The Center is an art project designed to empower first-year students to decide their own rules and methods for researching as they embark on a new journey—college. As an artistic learning community, inspired by Reggio Emilia educational philosophy and bell hooks’ thoughts on teaching, we have flexibility to pick and choose which methods make sense for our purposes, and we get to move between purposes. We will ask what it means to be undisciplined, to fit into the interstitial spaces between this or that, to find power in the grayness.
Because this center is an initiative of an independent artist and an unknown team that will form over time, its existence references the work of artists including Claudia Rankine, Steve Lambert and Steve Duncombe, Group Material, Tania Bruguera, J. Morgan Puett, Mark Dion, Pedro Lasch, Anna Craycroft, Marina Abramović, Matthew Coolidge, the Hi-Red Center, Andrea Zittel, Hope Ginsburg, Stefan Riebel, Mel Chin, Ghana Think Tank, Joseph Beuys, and Phoebe Davies’ who have been instrumental in redefining how artists invent and document temporary communities that come together in search of something, with or without the support of institutions. These artists have made and claimed space for undisciplined work and unharnessed research to happen in organic ways, and this Center looks to them as guides in our process. Because we are located within a university, we are available to the public as an academic resource, and in our ephemeral life as a Center, we hope to extend outward towards the various local and regional communities that the campus supports—connecting students with people who can help them feel rooted in their environment.