These public lectures explore identity, care, and trauma within poverty support systems. I identify my methods for intervening in poverty support agencies, and my practice-based research on changing perceptions that shape the trauma of poverty.



Author: Jody Wood



This paper addresses the role of ephemeral and temporary artistic interventions into systemic problems of income inequality and the question of sustainability in social art practice. My work often partners with social service institutions that are shaped by rules and procedures that increase predictability. As an artist, my work resists the rigidity inherent in these systems by carving out space for spontaneity, vulnerability, and play. The dilemma of sustaining socially engaged art long-term has unique concerns when paired with bureaucratic institutions such as these. Is a project more successful when it remains temporary within systems of predictability? How does a project transform when it becomes sustainable in the artist's absence? Is there a way to preserve its newness energy once a project becomes sustainable in the long-term? I would like to candidly discuss these issues in the context of two of my long-term projects, Beauty in Transition (2013-2016) and Choreographing Care (2016 - present), both working within poverty support agencies.

KEYWORDS: Art and municipal agencies; sustainability; socially engaged art; community driven collaboration; bureaucratic intervention


Speaker, “IDENTITY AS PRIVILEGE” Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw, Poland

Copyright is not the only tool used to create intellectual monopolies. I discuss how attitudes that consider identity as a privilege exacerbates economic disparity. Ownership of our physical body, and how our image is used in public as a copyright issue has particular relevance for the unhoused.



Participants included Artist Volunteer Center, members of BFAMFAPhD, Groundswell, and Jody Wood with an opening performance by Theatre of the Oppressed NYC. Moderated by Caron Atlas of Arts & Democracy.

Part panel discussion, part workshop and skill-share, this event will began with an analysis of the current NYC mayoral administration’s progress in addressing income inequality—particularly with respect to the specific needs and contributions of artists and arts organizations. Then, various artist-led initiatives discussed their work tackling inequality at a more grassroots level, including developing more affordable and equitable alternatives to traditional art spaces, schools and studios, and meaningful artist-community relationships.



These public lectures explore my community engaged art practice on subjects of care work, poverty, and aging

Speaker, “SOCIAL WORKS?: LIVE” Manchester School of Art, Manchester, UK

Social Works?: Live — hosted in partnership between Axisweb and Manchester Metropolitan University — is a conference that facilitated sharing ideas with a network of people involved in socially engaged practice.

In this talk I discussed intangible aspects of identity and autonomy within homeless shelter environments, and how my work aims to increase dignity through valuable and validating social interactions.


Artist Talk, “LEARNING DEPENDENCE” TIER Space for Endotic Research, Berlin, Germany

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Photo by Cleo Wachter. Audience member Tina Santos participating in conversation


Panelist, “SOCIAL PRACTICE IN ARTMAKING" McColl Center for Art + Innovation, Charlotte, NC


Artists Jody Wood and Marion Wilson share their projects undertaken in Charlotte, NC for the ArtPlace Initiative A Tale of Two Cities. Moderated by Keith Cradle.



I designed and lead the following workshops and courses. Course content aims to support professional practitioners of socially engaged art as well as students who are newly discovering the field.

Workshop Leader, “COMMUNITY WITHIN SYSTEMS” The Union for Contemporary Art, Omaha, NE

This workshop was for a small group Fellows selected to participate in the Inside/Outside program for one year at the Union for Contemporary Art. Many of the fellows were seasoned community advocates, and the fellowship program introduces volunteering with community agencies in the North Omaha district as a tool for artists to research, listen, and form ethical community collaborations.

Wood's workshop addressed the following objectives:

• Volunteering as research

• Understanding how communities form tangible and intangible systems

• How to look for leverage points to ethically intervene in those systems

• Relationship network mapping hands-on activity


Designed by Mathilde Walker-Billaud and Jody Wood, this workshop exposed a small group of participants to a range of creative practices and approaches to socially engaged films and media art.

Wood facilitated presentations from Barbara Hammer, Kelly Anderson, and Sally Szwed and led a workshop addressing the following objectives:


• Facilitating empathetic understanding about social topics with a multimedia approach

• Ethics of artistic representation and exposing social issues with accountable narratives

• Engaging your audience's 'intellectual empathy' on difficult and uncovered topics

• Viewing Edmond Burke's theories on negative pain and voyeurism in the context of film and mass media

• A praxis-based approach to working with communities as an outsider

• Creating space for artistic decisions while decentralizing point of view in film.

Through artists’ presentations, lectures, group discussions, short exercises and work-in-progress critique, participants were encouraged to put this new knowledge into practice. The guests’ presentations will also include technical demonstrations and documentary filmmaking expertise. The final afternoon was dedicated to presentations by students and included feedback by guest curator Sally Szwed.


Workshop Leader, “IMPLEMENTATION AND EVALUATION OF SOCIAL PRACTICE” Haiti Cultural Exchange, Brooklyn, NY

I facilitated a professional development seminar focusing on implementation and evaluations stages of community-based work for a small group of Lakou NOU Artist Fellows at the Haiti Cultural Exchange.

Lakou NOU (“OUR Yard” in Haitian Creole) is a program that functions as a creative adaption of the traditional rural Haitian Lakou communal living system which embodies the intersection of land, family, and spirituality. The initiative provides four artists of Haitian descent with the opportunity to create and present new work by connecting their skills and talents to four traditionally underserved Brooklyn neighborhoods, home to generations of Haitians and Haitian-Americans: Crown Heights, Canarsie, East Flatbush, and Flatbush.



Class Description

This course (as well as Integrated Design Studio 5) asks students to formulate a powerful question in relation to a substantial, socially meaningful context that is clearly identified and thoroughly researched. The basis of this will typically be an integration and extension of the culminated results from your classes and projects in previous years. Through a process of iterative development (‘prototyping’) and implementation that adequately addresses the concepts, paradigms, contexts and media with which the project is generated students identify and map out important stakeholders, cooperators, and influential thinkers in the “cultural landscape” that surrounds your ideas/questions.


Capstone projects will be developed with accompanying in-depth statements that describe the proposed project using models and media that are formatted in an appropriate manner for the actual context and for the academic context. Students are expected to execute all prototypes and culminating designs and outcomes with a high level of craft and peer reviewed execution.



Class Description

Political art has entered into mainstream discourse as an integral part of a new, more theoretically grounded and socially contextualized historical practice. In this multimedia studio art course, students will make art politically and collaboratively with community partners including Correctional Association, Fortune Society, and the Coalition for the Homeless with the goal of empowering marginalized citizens and contributing to the public good. Students will practice socially engaged art-making using a variety of digital image capture and presentation techniques including video, photography, and performance. Process, content, and collaborative practice will be emphasized as students develop tactical methods for using art to initiate awareness, conversation, and change about issues such as gender and LGBTQA rights, homelessness, and mass incarceration. Collaborative assignments, off-site visits, readings, and class discussions will emphasize Public Art, Relational Aesthetics, Legislative Art, Community-Based Art, and Social Practice.

• Civic Engagement Accreditation

• Awarded Civic Engagement and Public Values Fellowship Grant, Pace University, NYC


“ART OF CHANGE” Co-taught by Jody Wood & Eve Andree Laramee, Pace University, NYC

Class Description

This Learning Community Course, ART 188: Art as a Vehicle for Social Change and Political Protest is linked to ART 231 Environmental & Ecological Art. Join two professors in an intensive semester on the ways in which art can change society as we explore how to engage with issues to work effectively for change. In this learning community, we will think as a community to envision a future that is creative, positive and sustainable in a complex global culture. Students in this class form a community of creative “thought leaders” exploring art.


The Big Questions: Do you want to change the world but don’t know how to begin? Are you curious about activism and art? Are you angered by injustice or excited about the possibilities for social change? Do you care about protecting the environment and thinking about how to build a safer, more sustainable planet? Do you want to help create an ethical, sustainable future as citizens of the world?


Socially Engaged Art has entered into mainstream discourse as an integral part of a new, more theoretically grounded and socially contextualized historical practice. In this course, students will create artwork with the goal of contributing to social change. Students may be working with digital and expanded media including video, audio, sculpture, photography, and data visualization. Rather than a representational approach to social problems, the course teaches an interactive approach, fostering artwork that arises from a collaborative process aimed at positive politics and concrete outcomes.

• Awarded Learning Community Funding Grant, Pace University, NYC

• Learning Community Accreditation