Placemaking & Art as Social Practice

The preparation of good food is merely another expression of art, one of the joys of civilized living.Dione Lucas


Nadine Nelson is a career educator, artist, activist, and chef. As a chef educator, she has trained teachers, students and the public at large around diversity, cooking, and interdisciplinary arts, for over twenty years. Food is living. Using food as social sculpture provides a framework and setting for the community to feel and experience multiple opportunities to transform their perspectives around cuisine from seed to waste with interactive education, a variety of educative, and experiential experiences. Revolutionizing hearts and stomachs with new understandings, we shape the world by who we choose to eat with and how we choose to feast. I believe cuisine is an invitation for a relationship. The kitchen table is our path for reconciliation, liberation, and sustainability of ourselves, our communities and the environment. My social sculptures are implications of eating local, supporting people you know and trust, sharing it with people you love and being thankful for all it took to get it to us. Food is an opportunity to play with art each and every day to nourish our souls and bellies. Ultimately, the success of social practice art is the pairing of faith and comprehension – a community’s trust of the artist and their understanding of the needs of the community and to engage with them accordingly. Through a community asset mapping approach I believe as the great social sculpturist, Rick Lowe,  has said culinary ” art need (s) to become more a part of the communities,” because “after all, it is is in the home, in the neighborhood, where we develop our taste of things.” With this, I challenge many assumptions like the notion of food oases that have existed in vulnerable neighborhoods forever, showcasing original SOUL  food of beans and greens being about health and the fundamentals of the “green” movement that has been hijacked and isolated from the source, and the notion of depravity that is countered with projects that celebrate abundance and our interdependence for our survival. Adventures in culinary artistry become a means to activate and be involved with ideals of sustainability and unity, principles worth replicating with the kitchen and food as the center. 

As both an overarching idea and a hands-on approach for improving a neighborhood, city, or region, placemaking, [art as social scupture] inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community. Strengthening the connection between people and the places they share, Placemaking refers to a collaborative process by which we can shape our public realm in order to maximize shared value. More than just promoting better urban design, placemaking [and art interventions processes] facilitates creative patterns of use, paying particular attention to the physical, cultural, and social identities that define a place and support its ongoing evolution. – Project for Public Places

Regenerative Placemaking

Placemaking capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well-being.

Regenerative design is a system-based approach which advocates developing place-based strategies with a focus on enhancing fruitful relationships between the key principles and needs of ecosystems and society within their global context. In particular, it aims to enhance the regeneration of resources in society and improve the quality of life through reconceptualizing our role within ecosystems and resource cycles. – Sigrid Östlund


Art as Social Practice and Social Sculpture

“Social sculpture” is a term promoted by the German artist Joseph Beuys. It named a kind of artwork that takes place in the social realm, an art that requires social engagement, the participation of its audience, for its completion. For Beuys, the concept was infused with both political intention and spiritual values. As spectators became participants he believed, the catalysis of social sculpture would lead to a transformation of society through the release of popular creativity.Alan W. MooreA Brief Genealogy of Social Sculpture.