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In the Studio: Stephanie Syjuco
Stephanie Syjuco recalibrated her practice to provide aid for essential workers on the front lines of a global pandemic. Art21 assistant curator Danielle Brock recently spoke with the artist remotely to learn more about her current projects, including masks that she has been making from her home in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“The masks are first and foremost…not artworks, and they’re not meant to be seen as that. I make them primarily for what I consider front-line workers who are not in the medical industry—everyone from food bank workers, volunteers, and folks who work with the unhoused community, to grocery store workers and delivery people—all the people that are cut out of the priority line for personal protection but are completely integral to how this country runs.”
Read the full interview.
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Playlist: Teaching with Improvisation and Spontaneity
Art21 Educator alumnus Erica Richard assembled a playlist of Art21 films to inspire “letting go” and encourage incorporating spontaneity into everyday practices.
“Just as the artists in this playlist consider improvisation in their processes,” says Erica, “I use these big questions to guide our classroom inquiry: How can we celebrate the unexpected moments in our lives and our art-making process? When do spontaneous moments in our creative process take place? What media or modes of making tend to lead to improvisation and spontaneity? And when might spontaneity serve us well?”
Watch the full playlist.
Staff picks for things to watch, read, and hear
Watch: Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business
Packing a half-century-plus life into 8 minutes, the film is overflowing with Betye Saar’s art and feelings, biography and history, and some crazily memeable lines. My favorite—”it was weird down there”—describes the basement collection of African and “primitive” arts at Chicago’s Field Museum, the experience that sparked Saar’s profoundly generative creative fascination with spiritual objects.
When a filmmaker and her subject vibe, you can usually tell. Director (and Art21 collaborator) Christine Turner handles Saar’s life and work with just the right mix of lightness, energy, and warmth.
Shared by Nick Ravich, Director of Video Programming and Production; Streaming on Amazon Prime Video as part of the SXSW 2020 Film Festival through May 6; Also streaming on Vimeo
Listen: The Scaredy Cats Horror Show
The hosts of the Reply All podcast—one avowed horror fan and one scaredy cat—started a new podcast where they watch a different scary movie for each episode and try to convince the horror-adverse host to enjoy fear. Easily frightened myself, I relate and enjoy hearing about the plot and mechanics of horror films—without having to watch the films myself.
Shared by Danielle Brock, Assistant Curator; Listen now on Gimlet and Spotify
Play: Museum collections in Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Jolly Redd, neé Crazy, may have finally landed on the shores of Animal Crossing islands last month; but make no mistake, the not-quite-reformed fox is still peddling most of the same artwork seen in previous installments of AC.
Enter the openness of New Horizons, paired with the savvy of institutions such as the Getty and the Met, and all of a sudden a whole world of museum collections comes into play. Look at me, hanging nine panels of a Barbara Kruger work from the Smithsonian American Art Museum collection in my bathroom. No Bells required!
Shared by Jonathan Munar, Director of Digital; Available now for the Nintendo Switch
Distance learning tips from Art21 Educators
An art teacher in Philadelphia, PA, Marie Elcin wanted to honor normal celebrations, like Mother’s Day and Teacher Appreciation Week, remotely. She prompted her students to “create a bouquet that will last”:
Since my school has scheduled me to teach lessons to just one grade a week, I wanted to provide all of my students an optional creativity challenge to keep their artistic ideas flowing on the weeks they don’t get to see me online. So far we have done surreal creatures, noticing what you notice, a collaborative Earth Day coloring book, and a recreate-an-artwork challenge. This week the challenge is “create a bouquet that will last.” Since my students may have widely different art materials available, keeping my challenges open-ended and theme-based has been a success.
Recommended Art21-featured artists to consider include Daniel Gordon and Mark Dion.
Thank you for supporting our work
More than ever, online access to the lives and stories of artists is crucial, and Art21 is proud to share them with welcome an ever-growing number of visitors including students, teachers, parents, and art enthusiasts alike from around the globe. If you are able at this time, please consider supporting the work of Art21. Every dollar makes a difference.