Casa Familiar: Mi Pueblo Through the Lens of Socially Engaged Art
This thesis paper attempts to traverse the landscape of socially engaged art in an effort to come up with a new definition that challenges existing expectations of the practice. A new definition can provide an opportunity to expand the practice and allow it to make a greater impact within the community that it takes place in. Many terms are used interchangeably to address projects that fall within the realm of this practice, but practitioners or critics do not agree upon the terms. As a way of discussing this terminology, I will look at a variety of projects, examining their process more than their end product. One project in particular, Mi Pueblo, will be the main case study of this paper. Mi Pueblo: Living Rooms at the Border and Senior Housing with Childcare is a project, yet to reach completion, that has been designed through a collaboration between the not for profit organization Casa Familiar, Southern California based architect Teddy Cruz, and the community members of San Ysidro. Each partner brings their own expertise, from a community development agency to an architect that studies the bi-national population being served by this project, and a community that is actively engaging in their own community development efforts. The joining of these different partners has resulted in a low-income housing plan that addresses the specific needs of the San Ysidro community, while also providing multi-use and shared spaces that allow for entrepreneurial opportunities for residents. Through an asset based community development approach, Casa Familiar is attempting to serve its community while also taking risks, in an effort to make a more meaningful impact. This thesis will be an investigation not only of the project, but also into the relationship between these collaborators, as a way to explore a more expansive definition of socially engaged art, creatively addressing a need while making an impact, in a purposeful way.