Center for Art and Social Engagement

The Center for Art and Social Engagement (CASE) fosters nuanced engagement around complex current issues in society using CMA’s art collection and experimental strategies as a catalyst.

Case includes:
• Thematic organization of art around a big idea of relevance to contemporary life, pulling together diverse works from the CMA collection in surprising ways;
• Experimental engagement strategies that enable visitors to investigate the complexity of social issues, contribute their perspectives, explore others’ points of view, and build connections with one another;
• Collaborations with socially engaged artists to co-create dynamic experiences around the installation’s theme;
• Public programs and teacher workshops to slow down with art, practicing skills of empathy and civil discourse through conversations with art;
• New community advisory collaborations to support stronger perspectives on our work.

Each year, CASE will explore a different theme through a gallery installation, public programs, and artist collaborations. The big idea of the current installation, which opened in April 2019, is isolation and alienation, which impact all of us in ways that are personal, social, and political.

Humans are social animals: We want—and need—to connect with each other. But how? Often, it can feel especially difficult to make connections across social barriers.
Some barriers to social connection include:
• A lack of shared experience.
• Discrimination, poverty, and hierarchies of power and privilege.
• Private spaces that separate us from each other.

These divisions impact each of us, sometimes with deadly consequences.
Finding ways to build meaningful connections with one another is a key challenge of our times. Talking about social isolation, alienation, and loneliness can be a first step toward connecting with each other on common ground.

• Art in the installation is grouped around the following themes:
• Positive and negative aspects of private space
• Complexities of human interaction in a digital world
• Diverse experiences of interconnection and isolation in American society

Through experimental, participatory design, the current installation of CASE encourages visitors to understand that isolation and social exclusion are broad and important issues impacting people in different ways; reflect on their own experiences of loneliness and disconnection; consider the lives of others; make connections with one another and with ways to combat isolation and exclusion.

The Center for Art and Social Engagement is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, through their Museums for America program. CASE was designed through new, experimental, cross-departmental collaborations by Daniel Marcus, Roy Lichtenstein Curatorial Fellow, Hannah Mason-Macklin, Manager of Interpretation and Engagement, and Jennifer Lehe, Manager of Strategic Partnerships, Learning and Engagement.

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