Performance Research Journal Issue 21: On Radical Education

“Play, Process, and the Unknown: Towards an Embodiment of Thought at the School of Making Thinking”

Written by Mollie McKinley

Michelle Bentsman

Aaron Finbloom

Sophie Traub


The School of Making Thinking (SMT), established in 2011 in New York, is simultaneously a residency program for artists and thinkers, an experimental college, and a nomadic investigation into intentional living. Through a summer residency program, immersive events and conferences, and artist ­run classes in New York City, the organization aims to explore non­traditional connections between art and thought in an embodied, integrated experience among creators and thinkers.

This paper outlines The School of Making Thinking’s pedagogical worldview by situating key SMT artworks and practices alongside their theoretical and political ramifications. In doing so, the text conveys SMT’s commitment to: the creation of an organization that undergoes constant structural re­orientation via consensus driven models, the establishment of a process­ oriented environment that necessitates the embrace of the unknown, the critique of emergent power structures, the use of subversion as a necessary tool for innovation and change, the upholding of structures of intimacy and vulnerability, and the encouragement to challenge oneself towards the embodiment of ideas.

By questioning and reformulating the way that thinking and making  are experienced and understood, SMT de­stabilizes the primary structures in which thinking and making are customarily applied, namely: the art world and the academy. The pedagogy of SMT  forges alliances of optimistic experimentation and exploration between affiliates of these two worlds. With these fluid, subversive and nomadic principles at play in SMT's structuring and programming, the learning site continues to become an environment which resists the crystallization of undue authority within the cultures of thinking and making.