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Areas for Action: Play, Exploration, and Interaction

Feb 5, 2016 – Apr 16, 2016

In October 2015, Brooklyn-based artist Oliver Herring collaborated with several Utah County art educators and institutions. To engage hundreds of high school and college students, he employed Areas for Action, a performance structure that asks participants to engage in open-ended and temporal creative action with a limited scope of materials in a designated space.

Each group began with two or three volunteers, who acted as the site for a temporary, living sculpture. From there, other participants were asked to respond to the situation with simple, everyday materials to transform the environment, fostering experimentation, play, and exploration of the possibilities that might unfold in such a unique situation.

Herring’s practice is especially appealing to educators who embrace notions of learning as a complex phenomenon—in which learners respond to and flourish in and among a given context—as opposed to the familiar hierarchical structure of so many traditional school systems.

Art educator Jethro Gillespie, from Maple Mountain High School, who worked with Oliver Herring during his visit to Utah said, “this (Areas for Action) has been like a healthy injection of chaos and complexity into the schools that was eagerly received by students in each of the schools where we did this. I’ve seen so many students that are all but paralyzed by the effects and culture of increased standardization demanded by schools today. But in every one of these performances, the kids exploded into this when we gave them the opportunity.”

Participating Schools & Educators

Maple Mountain High School – Jethro Gillespie
American Fork High School – Clark Goldsberry & Michelle Walker
Mountain View High School – Bart Francis
Provo High School – James Rees
Timpanogos High School – Anna Davis
Brigham Young University – Dr. Daniel Barney
Utah Valley University – Dr. Lori Santos