Make it Public: Art and Social Practice

Listed in: Art and the History of Art, as ARHA-308
Moodle site: Course (Login required)
Faculty: Amanda A. Herman

Click through each of the tabs below to see various types of reference, database, media, and web resources.

Questions about this guide? Contact

Articles & Background

Resources for finding articles in magazines and adademic journals, and for researching overview or background information on a topic

  • BHA: Bibliography of the History of Art (1973 to present)
    Bilingual database on the history of post-classical western art. Also includes RAA (Repertoire d'Art et d'Archeologie) from 1973 to 1989 and RILA (International Repertory of the Literature of Art) from 1975 to 1989.
  • Arts & Humanities Database
    Full-text publications that focus on art, architecture, design, history, philosophy, music, literature, theatre and cultural studies.
    Full-text backfiles of over two thousand leading academic journals across the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. (Alumni access)
  • Alternative Press Index (1969 to present)
    Covers alternative, radical and left periodicals, newspapers and magazines.
  • International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS) (1951 to present)
    Indexes about 3,000 journals and 7,000 books per year.
  • Black Studies Center (25,000 BC to present)
    Black Studies Center is a tool that supports research, teaching, and learning in Black Studies covering aspects of the black experience such as history, literature, political science, sociology, philosophy, and religion.
  • GenderWatch (1970 to present)
    Full text of publications that focus on the impact of gender across a broad spectrum of subject areas.
  • Historical Newspapers (ProQuest)
    Combined search of the historic Boston Globe, Chicago Defender, Chinese Newspapers Collection, Hartford Courant, Los Angeles Times, New York Amsterdam News, New York Times, South China Morning Post, Times of India, and Washington Post.

Background/Reference sources:

  • Oxford Art Online
    Oxford Art Online is the access point for Grove Art Online, and other Oxford art reference works covering all forms of the visual arts: painting, sculpture, architecture, graphic and decorative arts, and photography from prehistory to the present.
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library
    70 reference e-books, including multivolume works like the Encyclopedia of Religion, American Decades, and more.
  • Reference Universe
    Searchable index of the library's entire reference collection, both print and electronic.


Search the library catalog for relevant material

    Some example subject headings to search in the Five College Library Catalog:

    • Art and Social Action
    • Art and Social Action -- Exhibitions
    • Ecology in Art
    • Art and Social Conflict
    • Social Problems in Art
    • Arts Political Aspects
    • Artists and community
    • Public spaces in art

    A note on searching for exhibition catalogs
    Almost all Five College Library catalog records for exhibition catalogs contain the word "exhibitions," either as a subject term, or in the description. To find a catalog focused on a specific artist or topic, perform a keyword search that includes the artist's name (last name is often enough) or the topic word(s), and the word exhibition* (using the truncation symbol * searches for both the word exhibition and the subject term exhibitions). 

    Helpful name and vocubulary resources:

    Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT)
    Union List of Artist Names (ULAN)
    Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN)

    Web Resources

    Free online sources

      Ars Electronica archive
      Archives of digital media art spanning the last 35 years

      Art in the Public Interest
      Historic site and archive for the non-profit supporting community-based organization for the socially conscious.

      Center for the Study of Political Graphics
      Collects, preserves, and exhibits posters relating to historical and contemporary movements for social change.

      Creative Capital Foundation
      Nonprofit organization; funds and promotes artist projects. Web site includes documentation on past, current and upcoming projects.

      Creative Time
      Organization founded in 1974 supporting innovative public art/commentary. Web site includes documentation on past, current and upcoming projects.

      Graphic Witness
      Graphic imagery by artists working from the turn of the 20th Century to the present, with related bibliographic and biographic data.

      Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life
      National consortium of colleges and universities committed to public scholarship in the arts, humanities, and design.

      Interference Archive
      Posters, flyers, publications, photographs, books, T-shirts and buttons, moving images, audio recordings, and other materials created as part of social movements.

      Just Seeds Artists' Cooperative
      Cooperative of artists committed to print and design work that "reflects a radical social, environmental, and political stance."

      Newsreel Films
      Collection of photographs and early films made by NEWSREEL (aka: Camera News Inc.) in the late 1960's. Photos available on site; videos not public.

      Public Art Network (Americans for the Arts)
      Site includes artist projects with images and descriptions.

      Social Sculpture Research Unit (Oxford Brookes University, England)
      Interdisciplinary research and practice network in the field of social sculpture and related practices

      Printed Matter
      A non-profit store that circulates publications on behalf of artists and small presses.

      Rhizome Artbase
      Archive of digital art

      Vera List Center for Arts and Politics (The New School, NYC)
      Center for critical investigation of art and politics

      Journals/Alt. Press

      Relevant journals and other press to search. See the Databases tab for mainstream newspapers.

        Afterall: A Journal of Art, Context, and Enquiry
        Art in America
        Art Forum International
        Art Journal
        e-Flux (online)
        Flash art
        Frieze (at Smith & Hampshire)
        Heresies (Heresies Archive online:
        hyperallergic (online)
        Journal of Artistic Research (online)

        Bloom Alternative Press collection in Amherst's Archives & Special Collections: 


        Resources for finding images and video

        • Kanopy Streaming Video
          Kanopy offers a broad selection of thousands of streaming films, documentaries, and theatrical releases covering a wide variety of subject areas, with additional new releases launched monthly. If close-captioning is not included, it can be requested. Interactive transcripts are included. Note that US feature films are not typically part of the Kanopy offerings.
        • Oxford Art Online
          Oxford Art Online is the access point for Grove Art Online, and other Oxford art reference works covering all forms of the visual arts: painting, sculpture, architecture, graphic and decorative arts, and photography from prehistory to the present.
        • ARTstor
          Image database including architecture, painting, sculpture, photography, decorative arts, and design as well as many other forms of visual culture.
        • UbuWeb
          Large web-based educational resource for avant-garde material.