Summer Cunningham

Summer Cunningham is an Assistant Professor of Communication interested in social justice and transformation, relationality, and creative inquiry as a means for discovering new possibilities for being together. The politics of motherhood has been a central focus of her scholarship. She employs creative, performative, and experimental methods with the aim of garnering interest in social issues for which people are either disinterested or do not see themselves as stakeholders.


Open House, a performance art project originally titled “Give and Take,” took place in September 2010. My son and I created this project as an invitational gesture: we hoped to make a home for ourselves within the academy by inviting the academy into our home. Members of our academic community were split into small groups, given a key to our home, and, for one week, invited to show up at our home anytime—day or night, announced or not—to see what our life was like. Not everyone showed up, but, nevertheless, there was a shift in our community that was palpable as a result of this project. In what follows, I share documentation from this experiment and offer a contextualizing narrative that provides background regarding circumstances and politics that influenced our performance, a performance that raises (and perhaps offers some answers to) questions about community, belonging, academia, and motherhood.

Open House: A Performance Art Project by Single-Mother and Son, or, If You Haven’t an Academic Home, Invite the Academy into Your Home

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