LAAGP started as an artwork dreamt up in 2015 by two young artists, Maia Chao and Josephine Devanbu, grappling with the relevance of our chosen field to a wider public. Both of us come from upper-middle class, interracial (Chinese/White and Indian/White, respectively) households with teaching artist parents. The value of art and art museums was a given. But we recognized that this assumption was firmly rooted in the intersectional privileges of our identities. Having both studied social science in addition to art, we craved a candid conversation about the structural inequalities of art and its institutions.
As a collective, we are committed to collaborative and participatory art that models counter-institutions, alternative spaces, and redistribution. We seek to shift the capitalist framework of scarcity to a framework of abundance, focusing on the potential of pooled resources, bartered skills, and shared spaces.
We embrace our role as artists to valorize the strange, seemingly illogical, and fleeting to imagine another world with different terms and assumptions:
What would happen if working class folks were paid to look at art?
What would it take to facilitate an art experience that does not depend on the assumption that art, and viewing it, is inherently valuable to all?
What if the labor of experiencing implicit and explicit institutional racism/discrimination were named and compensated?
From this position we aim to:
creatively address inequity and interrupt closed hierarchical structures;
exercise our bureaucratic fluency to redistribute money;
develop practices that center marginalized voices without requiring them to assimilate;
destabilize conventional ideas of expertise.
Art Workers Coalition and W.A.G.E.
Institutional Critiques: Andrea Fraser, Fred Wilson, Stephanie Syjuco, Tania Bruguera
Cultural Criticism: Hilton Als, Sara Ahmed, adrienne maree brown, bell hooks, Jeff Chang, and Paolo Freire
Maia Chao is an interdisciplinary artist from Providence, RI, whose work—often playful and absurd—uses existing institutions and their systems as sites of social intervention and critique. Chao holds a BA from Brown University and an MFA from RISD. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Grant (2014), Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship (2017), and Van Lier Fellowship (2018) and will be artist in residence at Pioneer Works (2019). She is based in Brooklyn, NY. www.maiachao.com
Josephine Devanbu is an artist committed to engaging non-traditional audiences, including overworked doctors in a rural health clinic in India, inmates in a Rhode Island prison and migrant workers in California’s Central Valley. Devanbu holds a BFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BA in Science and Technology Studies from Brown University. She is based in Providence, RI.
Pilot Team (2016)
MARIA PAULA GARCIA MOSQUERA
Facilitator (Pilot Program, RISD Museum 2016)
Maria Paula Garcia Mosquera is a public historian/cultural worker interested in exploring ways to narrow the gap that exist between institutions working with heritage and a broader public. This interest has taken her to work in a range of cultural organizations and government institutions, such as the Colombian National Public Radio, the Bogotá’s Office of Culture, Recreation and Sports, and the Museums of the Central Bank of Colombia. Garcia holds a BA in History from the Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá, Colombia) and is currently an MA candidate in Public Humanities at Brown University.
Researcher and Facilitator (Pilot Program, RISD Museum 2016)
Bryn Pernot is an interdisciplinary researcher and program developer who seeks to bring together fields like anthropology, education, theater, and design to create innovative museum programs that integrate diverse backgrounds and perspectives and provide a space for public participation. Pernot holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of Chicago and is currently an MA candidate in Public Humanities at Brown University.