common ground graphic
Title: common ground

Presented at the Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas,
November 7 - December 15
, 2019.

A public square is a place where citizens can meet with friends or encounter people, ideas and info they didn't know they needed to know; discuss and form plans regarding issues of common concern or appeal for relief from injustice or suffering; relax and play with others; and generally enjoy, discover and contribute to their communities; it's also a place where they can be surveilled and kettled. Public squares exist in "meatspace" (the physical world) and in spaces we think of as virtual, such as online.

The works in common ground are created amid concerns about the hard and soft infrastructures that support and control our physical and virtual public squares and how they shape our individual and collective lives, including the ways in which we're increasingly atomized into individual and tribal "bubbles" defined by distractions or wedge issues, with far-reaching effects for both our personal psyches and society at large. The exhibition seeks to focus attention on the possibility of areas of agreement with "the other side" and create space for conversation about how we might come together both to further our common interests and to restore or re-create our public commons.

Admission to the Meadows is free on Thursdays 5 - 9pm, and parking under the museum is validated. The exhibition, El Greco, Goya, and a Taste for Spain: Highlights from the Bowes Museum will be on view concurrently with common ground. For museum hours and other info, please call the Meadows at 214-768-2516 or visit


  Art Talk
    Thur., Nov. 7, 6PM, with prelude beginning at 5:30.
Carolyn Sortor will discuss the exhibition within the context of her work.

Representative Image for Self-Surveillance Workshop

Sun., Dec. 15, 2 - 4PM, at ex ovo, 414 Fabrication St., Dallas. In partnership with the common ground exhibition, ex ovo will offer a free workshop led by artists Melanie Clemmons and Zak Loyd on the basics of online security, including how to use privacy software like TOR, and on how individuals can harness their personal data as stored by online platforms. Participants are encouraged to bring their phones and laptops. The workshop will be accessible to users at all levels of technical ability.


  Private Public Squares
    (2019), series of ten (each with 2 different texts, front and back, out of 20), polyester fleece and digitally printed fabric with PVC rod, grommets, etc., 44" x 44" x 2".

Image of Private Public Square

When you’re in public but you’d like to participate in your favorite virtual public squares without anyone looking over your shoulder, pop this soft, fleece envelope over yourself for instant privacy between you and your device. When done, roll and carry the Square like a yoga mat. Each Square in the series bears one or more unique phrases.

Private Public Square Displayed on Mannequin

  common ground

(2019-?), relational action/experiment with installation, a questionnaire, and people.

Visitors encounter an inviting parlor or picnic area where they are invited to complete a questionnaire asking them to try to describe one or more points on which they actually agree with some group or person with whom they otherwise generally disagree. Their descriptions may later be compiled and used to create one or more further art works.

If you visit when the artist is not present, you will still be able to view the exhibition and share your input. Appointments are also available; please email commonlygrounding (at) gmail (dot) com with "common ground" in the Subject.

A copy of the questionnaire may also be downloaded here (IF YOU ARE PARTICIPATING IN THIS PROJECT ONLINE, please email your completed questionnaire to commonlygrounding (at) gmail (dot) com with "common ground" in the Subject.

(This project was subsequently also exhibited at Umbrella Gallery, Dallas, 2021-11-06 - 2022-01-03.)

  Instant Public Square

(2019), HD video (1920 x 1080), 5:35 min., looping.

As convenient and even addictive as our virtual spaces have become, certain kinds of connection and fortuity only arise through presence with one another in person.

Originally shot in the green space just outside the Meadows Museum, Instant Public Square can be carried on a cell phone and, with a small adapter, installed wherever there's an available projector and overhead surface, to create a space that can encompass real people even if the greenery's just digital. The video is freely downloadable here

Still from Instant Public Square






Collage 20th Century Classics, for the loan of the gray chairs, and

The Meadows Museum, SMU



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