Unfortunately, during my drawing performance (I invited people to ask me anything and I drew a response for them which they could take home) earlier this month, no one asked me this question I was expecting to get, "Hi Roz! What are you gonna do while you're here at UMass?" This was my first very public moment as the artist in residence here, and I met a lot of people for the first time. I had all kinds of answers prepared, explaining the Center for Undisciplined Research, my interest in learning more about the water around here, exploring rock varieties of the area, eating ice cream from local creameries, clams, apple picking, experimental pedagogy, all the things I hope to do and may not do and wish I could do and know that I will do. Anyway, since I didn't get to answer this question then, I will use this web platform as a place to write it all out—to share plans, goals, hopes, visions, and ideas for things that this temporary Center might do over the next eight months.
Since most of you don't know me personally, I thought I would start by telling you a bit about myself and my work, and then, in another post coming soon, I'll outline all the things I've been doing in preparation for the Center launch since August 15th when I arrived here in Massachusetts (and then I'll give an update about where the Center is now).
My name is Roz Crews, and I'm an artist who grew up in Central Florida, attended college at New College of Florida in Sarasota where I studied anthropology and public archaeology, and received my MFA in Art and Social Practice from Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. My preferred pronouns are she and her, and I prefer to be called "Roz" as opposed to "Rozalyn."
So far, education has been a huge part of my life, utilizing most of my time, energy, and enthusiasm for the majority of years, and it's something that I truly believe in. I've seen hundreds of people transform their beliefs, ideas, prejudices, and imaginations in the classroom—both as a fellow student and as a teacher, and to me, that (presently witnessing "learning") is the most magical thing I've seen in real life. All the schools I've attended have been quite liberal, all public, and yet always filled with various issues including but not limited to: systemic racism, classicism, elitism, inaccessibility, heteronormativity, a lack of trust in students and their intentions, teachers and administration who use fear and authority as tools of oppression and tools for enforcement of inconsequential rules. Without a doubt, and probably obvious given the subject of my work, I've had countless positive experiences within all of these institutions. Both my undergraduate college and the MFA program I attended were inspired by Black Mountain College, and of all the schools I've been to, these two produced the most positive experiences.
For the last three years, I've been thinking seriously about the best parts of my education, I've been daydreaming about how to be a better artist, a more serious observer, a more playful listener, a more thoughtful responder, and in my explorations, my practice as an artist shifted towards developing projects that expand how or what I think about education—also how I "practice education," as a teacher and as a student.
Some of those experiments are listed and briefly described below: