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From the Executive Director: Are We Still Listening Now?

Challenge is what makes us grow stronger. In any moment of great pain and anguish, knowing what to say—or not to say—can be an art in its own right. In sitting down to write this newsletter, I asked Art21 staff to share the messages that they want to be receiving at this time. Immediately, the team took up the need for constancy and commitment to being allies for change in the fight against systemic racism and oppression, standing especially in solidarity with the Black citizens of our country.

Let’s not drop the ball on this,” remarked one member of Art21’s team. Another colleague reflected on the timeliness and slowness of change: “It doesn’t happen overnight.” Always optimistic, they assured us: “Remember, every little win is a win.” Another reminded everyone about Pride Month and our commitment to the LGBTQ community. Another remarked how easily everything is politicized in the U.S. right now.

Like many conversations I’ve participated in lately, our purpose wasn’t to arrive at something concrete. The point was to hear each other. “The importance of listening is central to our work,” said another staffer, reinforcing a message from a recent Art21 dispatch.

Then the question came up: Are we still listening now? Everyone agreed: Let’s be sure we are, because there are many passionate people in vulnerable communities organizing in amazing and inspiring ways. With any great cultural shift, we want to be agents of change. With any powerful movement, we make a difference when we listen and learn together.

Tina Kukielski
Executive Director and Chief Curator
June 24, 2020

Deepen your connection to Art21

Playlist: Pride Unveiled

Breaking free from the expectations of the binary, artists abstract traditional definitions of gender and sexuality to provide visibility to LGBTQ communities and liberated perspectives underrepresented in the mainstream.

The artists in this playlist examine identity through individual and community participation, challenging audiences and participants to exercise free expression by putting forth their own personal experiences.

Watch the playlist.

Michael Ray Charles subverts Black American imagery

Michael Ray Charles questions racial stereotypes by investigating caricatured portrayals of Black experiences from throughout American history.

“People today, they operate from an emotional place when they see these images,” says Charles, “because they think of the past as being something that happened and that these concepts don’t linger.”

“But these concepts continue to affect us in many ways.”

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.