The Punto Urban Art Museum in Salem, Massachusetts : a case for shared authority
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
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How can art and creative placemaking practice towards social justice? Based in the Point neighborhood of Salem, Massachusetts, North Shore Community Development Coalition's (North Shore CDC) Punto Urban Art Museum (PUAM) is a "social justice art program" that aims to break down socio-economic divides between the Point, a historically immigrant neighborhood, and the rest of Salem, by beautifying the public realm with over 100 murals painted on or adjacent to affordable housing. Responding to a practical problem of low resident engagement in PUAM, however, this thesis proposes shared authority to operationalize two dimensions of social justice: material distribution and cultural recognition. Shared authority involves elevating diverse knowledge, perspectives, and lived experiences into the programs, interventions and narratives that create public culture.As engaged scholars with North Shore CDC, we thus ask: How have PUAM programs shared authority with Point residents? This thesis defends shared authority as social justice practice by tracing theory on social justice, art and placemaking, cultural tourism, museum education, and CDCs. Through interviews with program staff and stakeholders, historical research, and a review of public media, we find evidence of the presence and absence of shared authority in PUAM's history. We discuss how shared authority may contest cultural misrecognition and practice towards social justice by allowing positive self-definitions of difference; and explain how a focus on outside recognition may have precluded a more robust shared authority approach.In a moment of PUAM's future planning, and as cities leverage creative placemaking for economic growth and for social change, understanding these promises and pitfalls of creative placemaking is useful knowledge for orienting this practice towards social justice. We conclude with questions and proposals for how PUAM or other creative placemaking programs can share authority in their work. To celebrate other ways of learning and knowing, and to acknowledge our engaged scholarship approach, we ground our theory with visual storytelling. We use art to communicate theory in an accessible and memorable way, to bridge ideas from literature to conversations and decision-making on the ground.
Thesis: M.C.P., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, May, 2020Cataloged from the official PDF of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 110-114).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.