Carnegie Mellon University

photoBob Bingham


Often I consider the history of North America and wonder how the present would be different…if the newcomers to the continent would have paid more attention to their new environment and collaborated differently with the native peoples, whose lifestyle was so respectful of the earth and all its resources. Native philosophy about making decisions always considered seven future generations or ‘as long as the grass shall grow.’ Instead we embarked on a misguided strategy of manifest destiny that took over three hundred years to discover the concept of sustainability. Artists have a way of creating work that cause others to perceive the world differently. Some say it is the role of the artist in society; artists intervene at a grass roots level to catalyze conversations to be realized—artists as agents of change. The artist, Allan Kaprow’s passing reminds me how his philosophy about ‘Lifelike Art’ and ‘the education of the un-artist’ became his mission for writings and teaching of The Blurring of Art and Life. This philosophy opened the door for art that addresses ‘real stuff’ and the community-based art practice. It initiated a generation of artists to practice and teach about real world problems such as ecological art: Joseph Beuys, Newton and Helen Harrison, etc. And the best models of this are built on interdisciplinary practice; acknowledging problems and solving them requires teamwork between a broad range of concerned citizens.