Social / Justice / Practice: Exploring the Role of Artists in Creating a More Just and Social Public
As a long-time activist and co-founder of the Boston-based Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI), Lori Lobenstine discusses making meaning and creating change in the public sphere through the integration of social justice strategies with art, design thinking, and social practice. Offering several examples from DS4SI’s own work, such as the Grill Project and Public Kitchen, as well as other domestic and international examples, she describes the creation of an energetic, new, third space—one where activists and artists come together with a shared understanding of the powerful possibilities for creative social interventions that can shift “small-c culture” and create change at the scale of the public. The paper applies a theoretical framework to understand how artists’ use of “productive fictions,” “elegant gestures,” humor, and surprise can interrupt social norms, helping people imagine new solutions to complex social problems. In this integrated work, Lobenstine and DS4SI promote “small-d democracy,” in which people can exercise their interest in and ability to impact the parameters of daily life through art and design.