Dana Bishop-Root & Ruthie StringerAdjunct Professors of Art
Dana Bishop-Root and Ruthie Stringer have been engaged in active collaboration, research and project making in public spaces since 2008. We live and work in the neighborhoods of Braddock and North Braddock PA, which both have deep connections to many histories, countless immigrant journeys, organized labor movements, Civil Rights struggles, as well as more recent histories of de-industrialization, governmental neglect and the resultant economic and public health challenges. Our practice responds to our local context, our experiences living here, and our relationships with neighbors who have shared their perspectives, histories, and ideas with us. A guiding principle of our practice is that neighborhoods are made from the differences between neighbors. Mutual encounter with difference, undertaken with curious intelligence, produces new knowledge and forms of being. Collaborative art making helps us to know and respect ourselves, each other, and our intersecting histories, and enables us to turn toward each other to offer and receive.
Our projects are made either in partnership with local individuals and/or communities, or are activated through participation. Our aims are to examine and expand local systems of communication and resource exchange, and to participate in the arts discourse of our neighborhood. The following are the questions we ask ourselves and our collaborators:
What do we want art to do? What do we, as artists, want to do? What is the real capacity of art and artists to impact neighborhood economies, and vice versa? How do we acknowledge systemic injustices and traumatic histories and find pathways through them? How do we celebrate the existing wealth and knowledge of a place? How do we recognize artistic and intellectual discourses that use languages other than those of art systems and institutions, and that develop outside of traditional art spaces? Can we use our position between our neighborhood and the larger art world to expand and connect both discourses?
While we are designing projects and enacting them, we are answering.