American Arts IncubatorDesign Research, Installation Art, Interactive Design
The American Arts Incubator is an international new media and digital arts exchange program developed by ZERO1 to support American artists and underserved populations working together to create impactful community-driven public art projects that address local social challenges. Partnered with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Elaine Cheung was one of five artists selected for this cultural exchange. The selected artists lead a training workshop, production lab, and public exhibition addressing a social challenge during a month-long exchange to each country.
Elaine was selected to go to Moscow, Russia, partnering with GARAGE Museum of Contemporary Art to host the workshop and residency. Elaine addressed disability inclusion, working with those with physical or sensory impairments that in some way hinder or distort their ability to function, interact, and move through an able-bodied world. She engaged with disabled and able-bodied participants to use new media art practice as a way to cultivate awareness, initialize dialogue, and suggest actionable steps towards inclusion and accessibility in Russia.
Through AAI’s experience-based learning methodology, participants engage in discussions, activities, and experiments around a social challenge of local importance. By applying creative practices to social challenges, community participants will develop their own arts-based solutions to bolster local economies, influence public policy, and further social change.
Elaine kicked off her third day in Moscow at GARAGE, where she hosted an Artist “Meet & Greet” Event. Those interested in the residency were invited to attend the event and learn more about the program and Elaine’s art practice.
Exploring the subject of inclusion through prototyping workshops, Elaine taught participants the use of various electronics and sensors, encouraging them to think of ways that use interactivity to create new experiences of empathy and inclusiveness in community.
Workshop: Interviews & Research
Towards second weekend of the workshop, participants gathered to interview patients at the Preodolynie Spinal Rehabilitation Center. This visit allowed the artists to understand who they were designing for, using techniques commonly applied to “design thinking” in the field to conduct research. Along with workshops and discussions, the program included meetings with the curators of the exhibition Co-Thinkers, disabled visitors, and the staff of Garage’s Department of Inclusive Programs.
As the workshop concluded after two weekend of intensive learning, the Residency portion where teams build and produce their projects and prototypes was about to begin. This lasted for 2 weeks where the 4 teams of artists explored aspects of inclusion through creating design prototypes that speculate what future inclusive programs could look like in local Moscow communities. Each focused on a different aspect of inclusion: raising awareness about inclusive practices in museums; facilitating cooperation within communities; discovering new leisure opportunities; and developing new experiences for people with and without disabilities. This residency concluded with a showcase of Inclusive Art projects presented at GARAGE Museum of Contemporary Art on April 22, 2017.