Carnegie Mellon University


Embedded in the CAS ideology is the concept that as a research center we will be productive. We will engage in activities that produce work. The process of making the work, activities and speakers around the topic and the final projects will be available to the public. Since 2008 every three years CAS has reinvented itself with a new themed initiative to fund and produce new work. In each initiative, two CMU faculty coordinators, one an artist and the other a scholar, select projects that engage in a focused exploration of a selected topic.


Hospitality Initiative 2023-2026

“Hospitality” explores the possibilities and limits of hospitality, belonging, and gathering through human and non- human entities, mobile and fixed bodies, temporary and permanent spaces. The sites, gestures, acts, and relationships of welcoming or gathering contain power dynamics that reflect financial, social, political, speculative, or imagined currencies, often with burdens and expectations of reciprocity and gratitude.


Borderlines Initiative 2020-2023

Humans create ways to separate ourselves and to connect across divides. A borderline is an in-between state that cannot be classified as clearly one thing or the other. To physically or theoretically travel this unstable space requires thinking about what is on each side, and about the processes that produced both sides.


Narrative Initiative 2017-2020

Most aspects of human expression and production are embedded with stories. Fiction, non-fiction or experimental forms, locate narrative as a practice that can be created or unpacked from an individual image, literature, a gesture, sequential media, an object, an interaction or other lexicons of life.

Performance Initiative 2014-2017

Beyond the traditional relationship between an audience and an actor, we consider how people performatively frame their lives through social rituals, athletics, digital capture devices, and everyday acts.

Media Initiative 2011-2014

Media has emerged in many directions from “old” media forms of narration, representation, and social and political engagement to recent developments related to the rise of “new” and “social” media. This evolution challenges us to evaluate it, in new ways and contexts.

Public Art Initiative 2008-2011

The place and role of artworks and artistic practice in public spaces has been a topic of debate involving artists, institutions of government, and members of the public. At the same time, many artists and scholars have questioned the conventional definitions of the artwork, its nature, possibilities, and the concept of “the public,” in cultural, historical and political terms.