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From the Executive Director: Becoming Surprised by Unexpected Transmissions

In lieu of in-person screenings, lately the Art21 team has been getting together on YouTube every Wednesday for a live weekly watch party. My toddler daughter eats lunch at this time so she joins us. Art21’s latest releases are the only videos she consumes. Last week, we watched Rachel Rossin play with large image-laden plexi, bending and twisting it like the way she alters and hacks software. Rossin has been breaking into computers since she was young. My daughter seemed amused and her face lit up when Rossin’s harpy avatar—half woman, half bird—floated into frame. Her ideas too complex for cognition in a young child’s mind, Rossin is nonetheless an inspiring role model for my daughter: adept at computers, real, gentle, playful, and driven.

The same is true of each of the four women in our recent string of film releases: Guan Xiao, Lynn Hershman Leeson, and Loie Hollowell all joined Rossin in our spring film season. That Art21 artists can be role models is a refrain we hear often, sung out by our educator community where the teacher-student-artist triad can be an effective system for self actualization. Knowing when an artist and their work will ignite a viewer or an audience is a special gift of perception that is part curation, part kismet. The more you do it, the more you become surprised by its unexpected transmissions.

Tina Kukielski
Susan Sollins Executive Director and Chief Curator
May 12, 2021

Deepen your connection to Art21

Sarah Sze shows the spontaneous

Building intricate installations from the minutiae of everyday life, Sarah Sze embraces the unplanned moments of spontaneity encountered during the making process. Sze’s use of improvisation allows for viewers to trace her decision making process as they explore and investigate the artwork.

“Improvisation is crucial,” says the artist. “The spontaneous is always where it’s the most interesting.”

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Upcoming workshop for educators

Join us next Wednesday, May 19, at 6:30 p.m. ET, for the latest installment of our new five-part professional development series exploring how artists use the five senses in their practice.

For “Sound On,” ponder the power of the human ear. See and hear how artists investigate the psychological and sculptural dimensions of sound through recordings of machines, musical instruments, their voices, along with reworked musical compositions and well-known pop music.

The program is free and will take place via Zoom.

Register now.

Visit our education calendar for a list of upcoming workshops for educators.

Recommendations from Art21 staff

Watch: Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision

I recently watched the 1994 feature documentary, Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision. It’s one of the few documentaries on contemporary art to win an Academy Award and I think of it as a sort of parent to Art21’s films with Lin (if I can be so bold!). I love hearing directly from the artist, especially in the archival footage of her at age 21, defending her design of the Vietnam War Memorial before Congress, the press, and the entire nation. There’s so much in this film that feels like it could be happening today—controversy over art, public space, memorialization, and race—and I love watching Lin advocate for her art in rooms and construction sites filled with men.

Shared by Danielle Brock, Assistant Curator; Watch now on Vimeo (rental)

Watch: Snapped Ankles live on KEXP from 2019

Fiery forest-dwelling rockers Snapped Ankles return with a new record this summer, which makes for a good excuse to get hyped from performances past. Filmed in 2019 during KEXP’s International Clash Day broadcast, this London show was in support of the band’s explosive album from that same year. While I’m still not quite ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers in a small venue, the energy captured in this recording helps make the case for working towards easing those anxieties.

The upcoming record releases just in time for New Yorkers to pick up Rough Trade’s exclusive variant from their new store in…midtown Manhattan!? What a time to be alive.

Shared by Jonathan Munar, Director of Digital; Watch now on YouTube

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 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.