Shifting Ground

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This paper stems from a community-based art and design project entitled ‘Shifting Ground,’ which was developed in 2019 and involved newly arrived and second-generation migrants, now living in the city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Based on participants’ cultural heritage, the project addressed the creative process as a vehicle for dialogue and as a means of finding a sense of place in the new culture. The initiative started with a ludic interaction with the migrant citizens, followed by two ceramic sculpture workshops, and ending with an exhibition that brought together the participants and their families as well as some local artists and representatives of public authorities. The research is focused mainly on the methodology used for the development of the co-creation work with the participants, particularly in the notion of action as a way to interact and develop the ceramic sculptures and to promote the participants´ social and cultural integration. In this context, the concept of action is analyzed as a central characteristic of the artistic practice and as a political tool for the empowerment of a displaced community. Some theories are taken into account, such as Hannah Arendt’s concept of action and Bruno Latour’s concept of thing, to deepen the notion of action. The paper begins by providing a brief summary of the immigration process that has occurred in the United States, followed by the presentation of a case study by the refugee Vietnamese American artist Tiffany Chung to contextualize the theme addressed in this research.