Project Stream: Arts Ecologies

Adelheid Mers

This stream grew out of two tributaries, earlier ways of working: Organograms and the Flexible Art Worlds Map. Organograms were poetic organization diagrams, created from 2006 – 2009, mostly by invitation. They were based on conversations with stakeholders, working in or associated with arts organizations. The Flexible Art Worlds Diagram's many iterations grew out of my attempt to visualize a syllabus for a core course in the Department of Arts Administration and Policy, "Arts Organizations in Society," in 2009. A series of diagrams of conference proceedings are also related, using the same Fractal 3-Line Matrix to parse large amounts of information.

(The Fractal 3-Line Matrix is described here.)

There have been 3 Arts Ecology projects to date, all seeking to create systemic views about uses of bounded cultures by talking with people who live within them. All were carried out with students of the Arts Administration and Policy Program at SAIC, a department I currently chair. I believe that the recently conducted Chicago Cultural Plan (2012) has opened a door, locally, for organizations to consider more formal inclusion of art inflected perspectives in community and urban planning processes. I also believe that as an artist with a cultural policy skill set, I ask, observe, listen and hear differently from typically sociology-based researchers. All Arts Ecology projects are located in or near Chicago: in Evanston, and in Chicago south and west side neighborhoods. They are based on interviews with stakeholders in bounded geographic areas. The project in Evanston (2013) culminated in an exhibition. The Chicago based projects (2013/14) generated posters for general distribution and feedback sessions with funders and stakeholders.

Also included here is a commission from the 3Arts Foundation in Chicago to gauge artists's perceptions of granting frameworks. This was presented at the 2013 Grantmakers in the Arts Conference.


Project: Homan Square


Project: South East Chicago Commission


Project: Evanston Art Center


Project: 3Arts