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.
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.”
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:
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.
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.