Parallel University Parallel University, established in 2007, exists as an umbrella to contextualize and as a platform to promote the recognition of everyday learning through shared experience. Mon, 02 Sep 2013 20:54:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Kentucky School of Art Teaching Residency Mon, 02 Sep 2013 20:34:24 +0000 SOBRO800_ash_street_05

Here is an email forwarded to Parallel University from the Kentucky School of Art at Spalding University: We are looking for an artist-in-residence to work with a group of students (15-20) on an urban community art project for six weeks in the spring of 2013.
·  The dates for the course and project are: March 18 – April 25.
·  The artist would meet with the students and work on the project Monday through Thursday from 12:30-4:00 p.m. and then during additional hours as needed
·  Spalding/KSA will provide the preliminary assistance as needed in terms of  developing the appropriate contacts and connections within the community.
·  Preferably the artist will have an MFA or 18 credits in graduate studio art, (but we are also willing to “prove-up” the artist if she/he does not have the necessary graduate credits)
·  Community art experience is a must, teaching experience is preferred
·  The artist will be provided with a stipend, housing, travel expense and materials for the project.  Of course this will all depend on receiving the grant, but it is our intention to pay the artist a fee of $5,000 and to have a material/supply budget of $3,000

The exact nature of the project would be up to the individual artist and could be an exploration of something they have already done in another community, or it could be something new and based on social, cultural, environmental issues specific to the neighborhood in which Spalding/KSA exists.

Below are links to our submissions:

Artist Philosophy_Sampson and Kurtz

KSU Residencey Proposal

Rockaway Call for Ideas Mon, 02 Sep 2013 19:58:35 +0000 Rockaway call for ideas

In an effort to foster the creative debate on urban recovery after Hurricane Sandy, MoMA PS1 and MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design initiated a call for ideas to create a sustainable waterfront. Artists, architects, designers, and others were welcome to present ideas for alternative housing models, creation of social spaces, urban interventions, new uses of public space, the rebuilding of the boardwalk, protection of the shoreline, and actions to engage local communities.

A jury including curators Barry Bergdoll, Klaus Biesenbach, Peter Eleey, Pedro Gadanho, Niklas Maak, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and other influential architects, urban planners, and designers made the selection from the open call.

Below is our submission, oddly it was not selected, however this was when the Wallace Classroom was first invented, so something came out of it.

L & S for Rockaway


Another Parallel University Fri, 26 Apr 2013 20:16:40 +0000 About a month or so ago we learned that there is another Parallel University based in L.A. !  A Double Parallel if you will, you can find a link to their site on our Friends page.  here is a link to their current news letter.  They are visiting Portland this weekend and we are looking forward to meeting them in person!

Proximity: All Power to the Free Universities Wed, 27 Mar 2013 21:42:34 +0000 “The Copenhagen Free University was an attempt to reinvigorate the emancipatory aspect of research and learning, in the midst of an ongoing economization of all knowledge production in society. Seeing how education and research were being subsumed into an industry structured by a corporate way of thinking, we intended to bring the idea of the university back to life [read more….]”

Daisy Chain PSU Wed, 27 Mar 2013 21:26:01 +0000 daisy chain events copy

For a DAISY CHAIN project, a point is found on a map and placed in the center of a circle that defines the distance the I can walk from the center in approximately 7 minutes from the MK Gallery.

I take off on foot until I meet my first stranger within this circle.  I learn a little bit about them and her/his relationship to the neighborhood, and then ask him/her to refer me to another person who can be found within the circle on the map, this cycle continues until it doesn’t.

In the gallery a large Wall map shows the area around the MK, and the path of my adventure.

Please join me at 3 for a short daisy chain style tour of the neighborhood.

A Video of the people I met will screen at 5.

Refreshments provided!



Make a Will Wed, 27 Mar 2013 21:23:28 +0000 IMG_4721When my best friend died her sister asked me to come and take her collection of beautiful art books.  Instead I took all her “guilty pleasure” reading material and spent the next weeks reading every word, as I did it was like spending light time together as I said goodbye.

Class Summary: Make a reading list to leave behind

Student Correspondence Wed, 27 Mar 2013 21:15:08 +0000

Parallel University is happy to assist in designing a personal curriculum for you. Simply apply to the University and tell us about what it is you wish to learn/teach and we will design a suggested course for you. Below you will find an example of a personal curriculum, there is no typical example as each of us are unique.


September 23, 2008

Dear John —-,

Parallel University is very pleased to welcome you! Your application exhibits an astonishing level of compatibility with the mission of this institution. You have been accepted with no reservations, and no probationary period.

Now down to business:  It is the role of the University to address its student’s needs, and we want to make sure that we have understood what your needs are. It is our understanding that:

  1. You are looking for institutional encouragement for your half baked ideas, false starts and careless interpretations of art as the main focus of your program
  2. You prefer to participate rather than facilitate.
  3. You would like us to provide some rules for you.

Please reply to this message, either by snail, or e mail letting us know if we have understood the parameters of the program you wish to pursue correctly.

Thank you,

Parallel U

PS you seem very nice too!


From: Parallel University []

Sent: Sat 11/1/2008 2:56 PM

Subject: Your First Assignment!


Dear Mr. —-, may I call you John going forward?

It appears from your application, and your acceptance to Parallel University that you want to pursue a path to incremental validation of your half-baked ideas with out sacrificing their half-bakededness!

Here are two options we suggest for your first assignment:

(Please pursue one, or both, please keep in mind at all times that our suggestions are likely to promote the goals of this institution as it exists now and therefore may be inadequate to your needs, we welcome dialogue on this/or any topic)

  1.  Start a project in a public space that needs to be completed by others.
  2.  Attempt to construct something ill conceived and meaningless in a public setting in an obviously inept way.  See who offers to help and let them.

We are happy to discuss these “prompts” with you. To receive official validation by the University we request that you send us some form of documentation of your learning experience, including a description of what you did why, and what you learned and/or taught in the process.

I must say however that both of these suggestions if pursued could give you reassurance of the value of your half-baked ideas with out further connection to the University.  OK maybe reassure the value of the University’s half baked ideas, but what are  “assignments if not half baked ideas given out in the hope of some new  “solution” being presented.  These assignments also address your stated preference to participate rather than facilitate.

I hope that even as a new member to Parallel University you will feel excited by the prospect of sharing your outcomes and experiences with your fellow teachers and learners.

Thank you and Love,

Parallel University

Bus Stories Wed, 27 Mar 2013 21:00:59 +0000 Bus stories are strategies I’ve learned for starting conversations on the bus from other people.  This is an every growing class resource, pleasecontribute your story, or try these out for your self!droppedImage_1

Today when I got onto the bus my favorite seat was available, the one just up to the top of the steps right behind the back door. Sitting there is like being on a ride, I don’t like rides, but I like sitting there and feeling “like I’m on a ride”. Michael and Uma clocked me coming up the isle (I don’t mean hit me, I mean saw me in a meaningful way) I “clocked them clocking me” and I wondered what was up…. soon after I sat down Michael leaned over and said “excuse me, what do you do?” I told him that up until yesterday I worked in the stacks at the library. He leaned over to Uma, and said, “I was pretty close.” I asked him what he had guessed I did. And he said school teacher. I told him that he was really good because I had just started school to be able to teach. I asked him what he did, and he said he was a seasonal construction worker, but mostly in summer. He told me he had a deconstruction job last week, which was really fun. And next week he has a landscaping gig, he hopes that the weather is like today, but he doesn’t really care, he

loves working outside. He then explained that what he is really good at is relaxing, being lazy. He told me the trick to that is to balance inactivity with moving around pretending like you are actually going to get something done. Uma was pretty shy and mostly hid behind Michael. They got off soon, we shook hands and expressed our mutual pleasure about the meeting. I was particularly taken by this experience, as Michael performed, with me as a recipient, exactly the kind of social practice work that I might do. (I am a little obsessed with the relationships that happen on buses) I loved this experience, and I feel like this is a great demonstration of the synchronicity/coincidence/connection that I am interested in, and I got to be on the receiving, responsive (rather than generative) end of it!

Class Summary:  Guess the profession of a fellow rider-and find out if you guessed right.

droppedImage droppedImage_2 droppedImage_3

I couldn’t quite understand this fellows name, but he took my book on the bus last week (he literally took it away from me as I was reading.) He did to give it back to me after he ascertained that the only picture was on the cover. I think he may have wanted to point to the irony of me reading a book on “relational aesthetics” when I was on a bus full of people I could have been relating to. I was given a good lesson by a two year old! Thank you little man.  This particular technique might be best practiced by the adorable, however we encourage you trying it if you want to.

Class Summary:  Take someone’s book on the bus.


The stop I have gone to for years on 22nd is gone now, I forget and just walk up to it anyway.

On this particular morning I decided to walk down burnside to 20th and catch the bus there. As I was approaching 20th on the opposite side of the street I needed , I saw this guy at the bus stop pull out a pen and write something on a sign pasted up in the tailors shop by the stop.

Based on his body language, I made a little bet with my self… he wrote something nice.

When I finally got to the stop, I checked out the sign, it was an 8and a half inch paper saying “sorry we can’t open today, we are sick” and what was “graffiti ed” on it was “get well soon”, with a smilely face. I said to the guy I’d seen write it, woha that is so great, thank you. He said, “yeah I felt a little like I was maybe vandalizing but opposite, I hope when they come they see this they know we care, they are just these old people running this shop, they put the bus schedules up in the window for us, they don’t have to do that, they are really cool.” I put quotes around this but this is just what I remember, he said it all a lot better.

We ended up talking a lot on the bus together, he made me feel really good about life, and my day. When he got off the bus, he came over and gave me a hug. It didn’t feel like an awkward gesture, rather it was reflexive, it felt just right.

Class Summary:  Make some graffiti near your bus stop.

Catching the bus at the top of 4th usually means getting on a nearly empty bus and having my choice of seats. But Thursday the bus was already full. As I went to the back to make room for others getting on, a fellow at the very back moved over and signaled me non verbally that there was room. I sat down, thanked him and started annoying him with conversation. He works at OHSU and is from Ethiopia, he has been here for one year. I asked him what was his mother tongue (we were having a hard time understanding each other, which is probably why he wasn’t overly eager to talk to me.) He didn’t really answer me except to say that they spoke a lot of english in Ethiopia except that is is “english english” he explained that they finished their words out in front of their mouths so that one could understand, but that in america we talk inside of our mouths which makes it hard to understand. I told him that several years ago I met an older Ethiopian man who spoke Italian, this man told me that many Ethiopians spoke italian because of the occupation. (I was hoping to speak italian with him) he didn’t know what I was talking about. Then a fellow sitting in front of us said, it was Mussolini who invaded Ethiopia to avenge the humiliation of an earlier Italian attempt that failed, but then the British came in and pushed the Italians out.

I was hopeful that this fellow would join our conversation, but he didn’t and I suddenly became very self conscious and embarrassed that I’d been bugging this guy who was just trying to get home from work. So I uncharacteristically shut up!

What happened next was lovely. “Facil” seemed to understand what I was feeling and introduced himself to me. We carried on with a much more two sided conversation. I asked him how he happened to end up in Portland, I couldn’t understand what he was saying, it sounded like, “like” or “life”, and then he said, “like powerball”, AH I said, like lotto like chance, like life! He said Yes! and we both cracked up- it doesn’t sound that funny, but maybe you had to be there.

This was my best ride all week.

An update…

My daughter and I went out canvasing for Obama (really just making sure registered democratic voters had received their ballots and were aware of the time line to turn them in- obviously if someone was undecided we were happy to give them some information.) We were assigned to a very scattered collection of houses out by marine drive (an area I was completely unfamiliar with.) At one house we went to the woman was undecided, and we had a pretty interesting conversation. After the politics were over she offered up that she was from Ethiopia. I said that I almost never meet anyone from Ethiopia, but had met someone else just last week. Turns out she knows Facil, and was happy to pass on my hello. This was a great thing for my daughter to witness.

Class Summary:  Learn about the person who offers you a seat.

Exploring Hoodlore Wed, 27 Mar 2013 20:54:58 +0000 exploring hoodlore: 5 minutes of collaborative radio

“This week we are going to give you the WHAT, the WHY, The HOW, the WHERE. And the WHEN of performing a simple intervention in the public realm of your neighborhood…”

As Part of Neighborhood Projects for the PICA TBA Festival 2008 Laurel Kurtz and Sandy Sampson for Parallel University in Collaboration with Chris Andreae, and KBOO Community Radio broadcast a time based art piece on the radio.

In five minutes spread over five days directions for a neighborhood intervention were given so that all within earshot could collaborate and generate a time based art project right in their own neighborhoods.

This class is still open, listen to the instructions an participate!

hl day 1 mp3 hl day 2 mp3 hl day 3 mp3 hl day 4 mp3 hl day 5 mp3 hl promo mp3

Daisy Chain Voodoo Doughnuts Too Wed, 27 Mar 2013 20:26:35 +0000

Daisy Chain: Voodoo Donought Too from sandy sampson on Vimeo.

Sandy used Google Earth to launch a daisy chain adventure filled with strangers who live, work and visit the neighborhood where  Voodoo Doughnut Too lives.  The project was ongoing for the duration of PICA’s T:BA:08 Festival. There was a celebration and video screening introducing the strangers sandy met. To see the video, click HERE

“Voodoo Doughnut Too” is the second in an ongoing series of DAISY CHAIN Projects underwritten by Parallel University.

For a DAISY CHAIN project, a point is found on a map and placed in the center of a circle that defines the distance the artist can walk from the center in approximately 7 minutes. (In this case the center is Voodoo Doughnut Too at NE 15th and Davis Street.)

Sandy takes off on foot not stopping until she meets a stranger within her walk time, as described by the circle, she learns a little bit about this person she has just met and her/his relationship to the neighborhood, and then asks him/her to refer her to another person who can be found within the circle on the map, this cycle continues until it doesn’t.

Picture 2There was a large map marked with the locations of the strangers Sandy met posted at Voodoo Doughnut Too  (the epicenter) and visitors were invited to mark the map and record their own connections to the neighborhood as well.

Using a virtual tool to illustrate physical real time connections Daisy Chain: Voodoo Too makes a circle when the project’s artifacts of real time physical interactions are ultimately archived on the web.  The Beautiful thing about a circle is that it keeps going round and round!  If you would like to participate in this project or see it continue please indicate you interest/curriosity/ideas in writing

There is a zine of the all the connections and stories marked on the map available (just email the address above if you would like a copy!)

By the way VOODOO Donuts are out of this world!