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From the Executive Director: Breaking Free from the Frame

Among the habits formed over the past year are new levels of attachment to our go-to technological outlets. This has been predominantly good for Art21 given the digital nature of our content. Viewership has more than doubled! Meanwhile, as a human who enjoys human encounters, I am also interested in what gets lost. As some of us return to in-person exchanges for the first time in over a year, the feelings around digital separation are that much more extreme.

Artist Guan Xiao recounts the impact of this habituation: “We have all developed this bad habit that as long as we have a computer or phone next to us we will be fully occupied by it. Once you have the option to use your phone or computer, that’s it.” Guan shows us that to unplug takes discipline and it is that unplugging that allows her to “make” the work. She reminds us that everything an artist does is about freedom, “to break our ideas free from the frames that are holding them in.” That is what is political, she says.

Central to Art21’s DNA is the belief that we must listen to artists. In the process of listening, we have also learned. Artists have taught us vital lessons about adapting to new situations, standing firm in your convictions, finding discipline as Guan Xiao does, building meaningful communities, and so much more.

Thank you to the many readers of this newsletter who showed their support with a contribution over the past week—and across the past year. Your contributions are what allow Art21 to share artists’ voices and their wisdom with millions around the world—through documentary film, public programming, and educational resources and workshops. The lessons artists teach us are an integral part of growing as individuals, and of creating a better world for us all.

To all those artists or creatives out there, break free from the frame, make your work, and we’ll be here for you when you’re ready for more.

Tina Kukielski
Susan Sollins Executive Director and Chief Curator
June 9, 2021

Your support is vital

As someone who believes in Art21, you are an advocate for artists.

You are a champion of new ideas and approaches, of big and important questions, and of innovative and game-changing solutions. You are an ally to educators, students, and to future generations.

Perhaps most importantly, you are an important part in making the world a better place through contemporary art.

Please consider a donation to continue creating greater access to contemporary art through documentary film and educational resources, for free to audiences worldwide. Thank you.

Jes Fan probes the binary

How can we be certain that the binary can satisfy us?

A trained glass artist, Jes Fan creates elegant installation works that quietly question our most fundamental assumptions about gender, race, and identity.

Fan’s personal experiences—moving from his native Hong Kong to the United States, growing up queer, and transitioning—have profoundly shaped his artistic practice.

“Maybe it is triggering the similar experiences of being racialized or being gendered,” says Fan of handling the materials injected into his work.

“It’s just the disposition that you’re constantly placed in—a constant act of othering.”

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Upcoming workshop for educators

Join us tomorrow, Thursday, June 10, 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 “Taste Makers,” savor the flavor of contemporary art. Learn how artists engage the gustatory system to question complicated societal issues like urban development, global warming, and consumption habits.

The program is free and will take place via Zoom.

Register now.

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