Media Contact: Carole McFall, 617-824-8415, carole_mcfall [at] emerson.edutitle="Email Carole McFall"

Emerson College School of the Arts’ Urban Arts Program will host a performance art event titled Areas for Action by Oliver Herring, a New York artist whose practice focuses on intensive collaborative encounters with volunteer participants. The participatory event takes place on Tuesday, May 3 through Saturday, May 7, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily at 80 Mason Street, Boston, a new studio and gallery space for Emerson College Visual and Media Arts (VMA) faculty and students to create original work and collaborate with guest artists.

Members of the community are invited to participate in the improvisatory performances. To participate, advance signup is required at joseph_ketner [at] (.)title="Email Joseph Ketner" Opportunities for participation are limited.

A Brooklyn-based artist, Herring directs and documents open-ended performances involving a series of actions between groups of strangers. Each day, a new group of volunteers are invited to engage in Herring’s Areas for Action, during which he draws from an array of materials including body paint, glitter, and food dye, as well as processes such as photography, choreography, and video. All the while, Herring records these improvisatory actions and activities using photography and video.

Spearheading Emerson’s Urban Arts Program is Joseph Ketner, the Henry and Lois Foster Chair in Contemporary Art and distinguished curator-in-residence in VMA. “The Urban Arts Program has been creating public art events, murals, projections, and light installations over the past five years. This event moves the program into the realm of performance art experiences, with Oliver Herring’s unique twist on performance as a visual art form. It is a marvelous opportunity for students, surrounding neighbors, and community members to interact directly with an artist and have a transformative experience through art,” said Ketner, who collaborated with Herring to bring Areas for Action to Emerson’s Boston campus.

During the summer, Herring will work in his studio—editing the video and still images that he captures at the participatory art event and developing a wide range of works that he will bring back to Boston, to be displayed at 80 Mason Street in fall 2016.

Dean of Emerson’s School of the Arts Rob Sabal emphasizes the School’s commitment to contemporary and visual art. “We have an incredibly vibrant visual arts community at the College, and many wonderful partnerships with artists beyond our campus as well. We look forward to continuing to offer shared cultural experiences through exciting contemporary and visual arts events that showcase work from students, faculty, and guest artists.” said Sabal.

Areas for Action Schedule of Participatory Performances

May 3 through 7, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

  • Tuesday, May 3: Narrative
  • Wednesday, May 4: Spit Group
  • Thursday, May 5: Glitter
  • Friday, May 6: Red, White, and Blue
  • Saturday, May 7: Foil Ball

About Oliver Herring and Areas for Action

Oliver Herring has been exhibiting and performing extensively both nationally and internationally since the 1990s. Since its inaugural iteration in 2010 in New York, Areas for Action has been performed more than a dozen times in a variety of venues and settings, including galleries, museums, and universities. Areas for Action in Houston last year earned recognition by Art in America magazine as one of the “Best Gallery Shows of 2015.”

About Emerson’s School of the Arts

The School of the Arts at Emerson College is a community of artists, professionals, and scholars committed to educating students to bring vision, commitment, sophistication, and courage to their crafts. School of the Arts students study Writing, Literature and Publishing; Visual and Media Arts; Performing Arts; or Comedic Arts. In fall 2015, the School of the Arts’ Urban Arts Program hosted an immersive video installation event titled Electric Pilgrims, in conjunction with Fort Point Arts Community’s annual Open Studio event, which featured projections created by Emerson VMA faculty and alumni, as well as guest artists. And in February 2016, its Visual and Media Arts Department launched a series of collaborations with the Academy of Media Arts (KHM) in Cologne, Germany, including Para by KHM faculty member Mischa Kuball, on Emerson’s Paramount Center’s Urban Screen on Washington Street in Boston.

About Emerson College

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, opposite the historic Boston Common and in the heart of the city’s Theatre District, Emerson College educates individuals who will solve problems and change the world through engaged leadership in communication and the arts, a mission informed by liberal learning. The College has 3,780 undergraduates and 670 graduate students from across the United States and 50 countries. Supported by state-of-the-art facilities and a renowned faculty, students participate in more than 90 student organizations and performance groups. Emerson is known for its experiential learning programs in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, the Netherlands, London, China, and the Czech Republic as well as its new Global Portals, with the first opening last fall in Paris. The College has an active network of 51,000 alumni who hold leadership positions in communication and the arts. For more information, visit