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From the Executive Director: Relish in the Special Moments

I am eternally interested in the connection between childhood influence and mature artistic ideas that find voice decades later. Our films at Art21 frequently reveal early stories of germination or the oddest personal idiosyncrasy—these moments are part of what makes our work special.

Our four latest film releases find commonality in the artists’ revelation of childhood moments. In my rewatching of these stories, the finalized artwork takes on new meaning through the lens of the autobiographical. Artist Guadalupe Maravilla describes growing up on the steps of the Mayan pyramids in El Salvador and playing tripa chuca, a Salvadorian children’s drawing game, while journeying to cross the U.S.-Mexican border in pursuit of his family and a new life. Sculptor and painter Wangechi Mutu explores in the luscious garden of her Kenyan bungalow with her siblings, meanwhile sculptor Phyllida Barlow recounts her mother’s handiness in knitting, dressmaking, sewing, and making dollhouse furniture out of discarded matchbooks. What Barlow calls “the antithesis of the toy shop.” And finally artist-collector Adam Milner kept a braided clump of his high school’s friend’s hair for years, installing it for an exhibition in Pittsburgh’s Warhol Museum.

These personal reflections when shared alongside the making of new work feel like secrets shared intimately on camera. A look into the past makes the present come into new focus with new crispness and illumination. If you are like me, you will relish in those special moments.

Tina Kukielski
Susan Sollins Executive Director and Chief Curator
August 4, 2021

Deepen your connection to Art21

Artists who express love and loss

Looking to experiences of human connection as a way to inspire empathy and caring amongst students, educator Ty Talbot assembled a playlist of artists who “investigate how intimacy and human bonds reveal the best of human nature, even in the face of heartbreak and change.”

Says Talbot:

This playlist features several of the artists who I use as exemplars not just for making beautiful art but also for addressing love and loss through vulnerability, connection, and self-discovery. I tell my students repeatedly, “What you make is a direct manifestation of who you are.” The videos in this playlist show artists of all kinds manifesting themselves through expressions of love and loss.

Watch the playlist.

IMAGE: Production still from the New York Close Up episode, “Bryan Zanisnik and Eric Winkler’s Animated Conversation”—one of ten films in from the guest playlist, Teaching with Love and Loss.

Festivals and honors

As we continue to produce new films year round—all of which are available to stream free of charge from our digital library—we have the tremendous opportunity to bring these films to audiences across the festival and online communities.

2021 is shaping us to be an active year for us in those regards. Recent highlights include:

A Vimeo Staff Pick selection for our recent film, “Wangechi Mutu: Between the Earth and the Sky.” The recognition is the first for staff director, Ian Forster, and our Extended Play series—and the fifth for Art21 in recent years. We’re also grateful for the additional coverage from publications such as Colossal, Juxtapoz, and Cultured.

Our segment featuring John Akomfrah—from the “London” episode of our most recent television series—was selected for the prestigious Academy-qualifying Rhode Island Flickers International Film Festival. This is our second acceptance in two years with Flickers.

Bryan Zanisnik’s Big Pivot,” from our New York Close Up series, has received seven acceptances and counting in 2021. The 2020 film has garnered ten total acceptances and honors, including a Vimeo Staff Pick and DC Shorts screening.

Four films investigate the relationship between memory and materials

Fresh from the four-film run of our spring programming season, we are thrilled to launch into our summer season with yet another batch of new films across our Extended Play and New York Close Up series.

This season features four artists—Phyllida Barlow, Guadalupe Maravilla, Adam Milner, and Wangechi Mutu—whose practices investigate the complex interconnectedness between artistic materials and personal experiences.

A new film premiered each Wednesday in July on Art21.org and our YouTube channel.

Watch the full season.

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.