Jen Delos Reyes


Jen Delos Reyes


Creator Bio

Projects in this collection: Open Engagement

From "Jen Delos Reyes was born in the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and educated first in its local music scene of the mid-90’s infused with the energy of Riot grrrl and DIY, and then in its university. [1] How she works today is rooted in what she learned in her formative years as a show organizer, listener, creator of zines, and band member. Graduate work at the University of Regina made the space possible for her to see her work as an organizer as a key component of her continued creative work.

Jen Delos Reyes is a 'farmer of sorts and an artist of sorts'[2], educator, writer, and radical community arts organizer. She is defiantly optimistic, a friend to all birds, and proponent that our institutions can become tender and vulnerable. Her practice is as much about working with institutions as it is about creating and supporting sustainable artist-led culture.

Delos Reyes worked within Portland State University from 2008-2014 to create the first flexible residency Art and Social Practice MFA program in the United States and devised the curriculum that focused on place, engagement, and dialogue. The flexible residency program allowed for artists embedded in their communities to remain on site throughout their course of study.

She worked with the Portland Art Museum from 2009-14 on a series of programs and integrated systems that allowed artists to rethink what can happen in a museum, and reinvigorate the idea of the museum as a public space.

From 2015-2022 Delos Reyes was the Associate Director of the School of Art & Art History of the University of Illinois, Chicago’s only public research university, where she taught in the departments of Art and Museum and Exhibition Studies.

She was the Director and founder of Open Engagement, an international annual conference on socially engaged art that was active between 2007-2019 and hosted ten conferences in two countries at locations including the Queens Museum in New York. After over a decade of large scale organizing she is now focused on work on the scale of her life.

She is the author of I’m Going to Live the Life I Sing About in My Song: How Artists Make and Live Lives of Meaning, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Public Engagement But Were Afraid to Ask, and Defiantly Optimistic: Turning Up in a World on Fire.

Delos Reyes divides her time between Chicago, IL where she is the founder of Garbage Hill Farm, and Ithaca, NY where she is an Associate Professor of Art at Cornell University.

[1] Credit to Saul Alinsky in form, and for the reminder that often the most formative educational experiences happen outside of the classroom.

[2] Grateful to Wendell Berry in general, and for this descriptor I am using."

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educator, education, Open Engagement, pedagogy, farming, radical, community arts, organizer

Links to Creator's Works in the Art and Social Practice collections

Open Engagement

Jen Delos Reyes