Material Practice

Material Practice: October 4–6, 2023

Material Practice: October 4–6, 2023

Material Practice is a series of ongoing convenings that deepen the connections between our initiatives and our partnerships across the globe. For these gatherings, we think alongside the Ruth Arts cohorts—Sites & Stewardship, Future Studies, Thought Leaders, and Global Formations—an international network of collaborators with a shared belief in the transformative powers of artistic practice, the materialization of ideas, knowledges, and relations, and collective futurity.

What if we stayed? with Mei Lum & Serena Yang
What if the tools keep changing? with Billy Dufala
What if we did it together? with Billy Tang and Claire Shea
What if collectivity were material? with Related Tactics
Material Practice: October 4–6, 2023
Material Practice: October 4–6, 2023
Material Practice: October 4–6, 2023
Material Practice: October 4–6, 2023


Zita Cobb

Photo: David Howells

Zita Cobb is an eighth-generation Fogo Islander, Co-Founder and CEO of Shorefast, and Innkeeper of the award-winning Fogo Island Inn. Following a successful career in high-tech, Cobb came home to Fogo Island and established Shorefast, a registered charity with a mission to revive the Island’s struggling economy and complement its ever-important fishery. Shorefast created a place-based model of community economic development that positions first and foremost the cultural resilience of the Island, a centuries-old settler fishing community off Newfoundland’s northeast coast.

Cobb’s notable achievements to date include the world-class artist-in-residence program Fogo Island Arts, a 29-suite Fogo Island Inn, the social enterprise Fogo Island Workshops, as well as several initiatives focused on heritage preservation, environmental stewardship, and youth programming. Cobb’s models are both unwaveringly specific and universally applicable, holding relevance for communities worldwide.

Cobb has been a Member of the Order of Canada since 2016 and was a 2020 inductee to Canada’s Business Hall of Fame. She has recently been featured in the New York Times, 60 minutes, and PBS.

Fogo Island Arts



Fogo Island Arts is a contemporary arts and ideas organization on Fogo Island, located in Newfoundland & Labrador, on traditional Mi’kmaw territory and the ancestral homeland of the Beothuk. Founded in 2008 as an artists residency program, Fogo Island Arts was created with the conviction that art and artists have the capacity to instigate social change and offer new perspectives on issues of contemporary concern. By facilitating collaborations and connections between a local and international network of practitioners and thinkers, Fogo Island Arts aims to provide relevant insights on questions of human relationships with place, nature, financial capital, and one another.

The W.O.W. Project

Joy Residency 2022. Photo: Echo Chen

Founded in 1890, Wing On Wo is the oldest operating store in New York’s Chinatown, and one of the last that still specializes in Chinese porcelain. The storefront has lived many lives, originally selling a wide range of products such as dried fish, canned goods, prescription herbs, and roast meats. In 1964, the shop began to specialize in porcelain. Five generations later, in 2016, Mei Lum took ownership of Wing on Wo & Co., establishing what is now The W.O.W. Project.

Through art, W.O.W. supports and creates communal practices, connecting the history of Chinatown with its future. Current initiatives include artist residencies, youth programs, public artworks, and public events. Mei Lum shares: “The W.O.W. Project sustains ownership over Manhattan Chinatown’s future by growing, protecting, and preserving Chinatown’s creative culture through arts, culture, and activism. As a community-based initiative, W.O.W. envisions the future of Chinatown as one that centers women, non-binary, queer, and trans people as leaders in building intergenerational bridges of understanding across Asian American communities and beyond.”

Related Tactics*

Image courtesy of Related Tactics

Image courtesy of Related Tactics

Related Tactics is an artistic collaboration between artists and cultural workers Michele Carlson, Weston Teruya, and Nathan Watson. Their projects are made at the intersection of race and culture, exploring the connections between art, movements for social justice, and the public through trans-disciplinary exchanges, collective making, and dialogue.

Doll Museum Forward*

Photo: Philadelphia Doll Museum

The Philadelphia Doll Museum was established by Barbara Whiteman in 1988. The collection first started in Barbara’s living room, and as interest grew from area schools, it expanded into a physical museum space providing lectures and workshops. Ms. Whiteman says that the dolls are, “More than play objects or toys, {they} symbolize the struggle for freedom and human dignity and each have a message of truth and strength that is important to the psychological and sociological development of Black people. Collectively, they present visual images of how Black people were perceived throughout history.”

Curator Rob Blackson and Ms. Whiteman are currently working together closely to share the work of The Philadelphia Doll Museum through the new initiative, The Doll Museum Forward. This project will catalogue and circulate the collection of 300 Black dolls throughout Philadelphia, to honor the history of the museum, engage new audiences, and initiate community-wide art programs. The whole life of a museum is considered, and even outside of the individual collection, this project will strengthen the mission and educational goals of 30+ cultural, civic, and educational organizations throughout Philadelphia.

Para Site

Photo: Para Site

Photo: Para Site

Para Site is Hong Kong’s leading contemporary art center and one of the oldest and most active independent art institutions in Asia. It produces exhibitions, publications, and educational projects. Since 1996, Para Site has grown into a contemporary art center, engaged in a wide array of activities and collaborations with other art institutions, museums, and academic structures in Hong Kong and the international landscape.

Recycled Artists in Residency (RAIR)

RAIR's mission is to challenge the perception of waste culture by providing a unique platform for artists at the intersection of art and industry. Situated inside a construction and demolition waste recycling company in northeast Philadelphia, RAIR offers artists studio space and access to more than 500 tons of materials per day.

Since its inception in 2010, RAIR’s flagship Residency Program has established itself as a unique opportunity for emerging, mid-career, and established artists. By facilitating artists’ direct engagement with the waste stream, RAIR encourages residents to consider their studio practice through the lens of sustainability and to thoughtfully reassess their processes of material sourcing and waste disposal.

Yes write about it if I like or anything if I like: being there there for Material Practice

Material Practice, October 4–6, 2023

Fiscal Sponsors

SOMArts, Social Good Fund