Thomas Hirschhorn’s Gramsci Monument, 2013, Photo by author.
Johanna Taylor’s research places art practice at the center of urban experience as a means to both analyze its capacity to do social justice work locally and to act as an innovative agent for global transformation. The research is a critical analysis which builds toward a more just city that has applications for independent arts practitioners, arts organizations, innovation leaders, community development organizations, policymakers, city officials, and funders.
Her book The Art Museum Redefined: Power, Opportunity, and Community Engagement (Palgrave Macmillan, Sociology of the Arts, 2020) analyzes the power and opportunity created in the implementation of community engaged practices within art museums. It examines the networks connecting art museums to community organizations, artists, and residents. It draws on global examples of museums extending beyond exhibitions within their walls to build dedicated partnerships that create art and impact communities while placing the Queens Museum as an ongoing case study. The book finds that cooperation is critical to build a community practice, requiring museums to disrupt organizational hierarchies to share power in decision making with artists and communities. In this way, artists and communities and museums build new pathways for shaping the design of their shared city.
She is currently working on a collaborative research project about artists embedded in government in the She is currently working on a collaborative research project about artists embedded in government in the United States that connect art practices in non arts contexts to advance civic goals. The project involves building typologies of artist in residence programs within government agencies currently operating in the United States as well as of artists’ approaches to collaborating with and working within government. This public research has resulted in articles for academic audiences as well as for government staff. It is also an integral part of CAIR Lab, a collaboration with Mallory Rukhsana Nezam and Amanda Lovelee that supports artists-in-residence in government through research, public speaking and launching new programs in collaboration with government staff, artists, and communities. We are an interdisciplinary team with professional experience as artists, researchers, arts managers, and government administrators.
Other scholarship looks at the intersection of art practice and policy, exploring their impacts on one another in working towards shaping the city, from the built environment to social programs.
Collaborative work about art, community, and policy change has connected her to socially engaged art. She has conducted embedded research within Future IDs at Alcatraz, a project led by artist Gregory Sale that engages the visual and political framework of an identification card for people with conviction histories to conceive and develop visions for a future self. These stories of transformation connect criminal justice reform into art and community practice.
She is an advisor for borderless, a global media platform connecting local communities for social change through civicly engaged pop culture.