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Weekly Watchlist: Take the First Step

Playlist: Origin Stories

At the opening of a new year, we often look for ways to set ourselves in motion.

The artists in this playlist share the inspiration behind some of their earliest work, drawing connections to their paths towards becoming artists.

Whether you connect to Yinka Shonibare’s philosophy of art as a utopian pursuit, An-My Lê’s transition from biology student to artist, or Maryam Hoseini’s early inspiration from a strong female art teacher, we invite you to take the first step and begin.

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Deepen your connection to Art21

Sky Hopinka explores what it means to be a visitor

Moving through a world of liminal spaces throughout his life, Sky Hopinka questions how to share experiences without explaining them.

While creating his own short films, Hopinka examines how people treat guests and visitors, navigate familiar and unfamiliar spaces, and how these experiences are “dictated by culture, by race, by nationality, by these differences that inform not only how we view ourselves, but others outside of our own experience.”

“It’s about inviting an audience to become comfortable with not knowing and to not feel they’re not missing out,” says the artist. “It’s okay to sit in a space of unknowing, uncertainty, lack of information: “I think I know” versus the feeling “I should know.””

Read the full interview.

IMAGE: Sky Hopinka during the filming of “Visions of an Island,” in 2015. Photo by Robyn Giffen. Courtesy the artist.

IMAGE: Richard Serra in his studio, 2001. Production still from the “Art in the Twenty-First Century” episode, “Place.” © Art21, Inc. 2001.

Richard Serra works from the inside out

Creating sculptures that shape and stretch steel like rubber, Richard Serra carves intimate moments out of public spaces.

“For the most part, work comes out of work in terms of how I develop an idea,” says the artist. “I never begin with an image and I never begin with a drawing. I usually begin with a model. It’s a way of working from the inside out.”

“If I think I can invent a new way of looking at those elements, then I think that there’s a possibility to proceed.”

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Upcoming workshops for educators

Join Art21 for two virtual teacher workshops being offered this month.

In Art Break,” a special online artmaking workshop on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. ET, watch an Art21 film, consider a prompt from Art21’s Educators’ Guides, and create art. Participants are encouraged to bring whatever art materials speak to them, which could include drawing paper, pencils, markers, fabric, thread, tape, scissors, clay, paint, canvas, etc. Please note this workshop will occur in the Zoom meeting format, so participants will be on camera and able to speak to one another. Registration is free, but space is limited.

On Saturday, January 22, 2022, at 1:00 p.m. ET for the latest installment in a series of virtual teacher workshops presented in collaboration with SFMOMA. Exploring different aspects of the question—”What is contemporary art?”—each virtual workshop encourages educators to think and work like artists, using thematic, inquiry-driven processes and strategies. The January workshop, “Environmental Impacts,” will look at artists that explore the relationships between people and the environment, as well as raise awareness about our role in the climate crisis. Registration is free, but space is limited.

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