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From the Executive Director: Let Our Hands Do the Thinking

One of the ways the Art21 team stayed motivated and connected in 2021 was by taking short respites to make art—together, on camera, and mostly in silence. We gathered online while our education teammate Emma Nordin laid out basic instructions for supplies we could scrounge at home. Then, she called up an Art21 video—first by Diana Al Hadid and another by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer—, asked some questions, and gave us time to let our hands do the thinking. The prompts she employed come from Art21’s substantial catalog of Educators’ Guides released alongside our TV program Art in the Twenty-First Century and, now too, some of our film shorts. 

Apart from rudimentary craft play with my toddler, my own art practice is indefinitely suspended. It has been years since I sat down and made something. Although the online art-making exercise lasted only 40 minutes, I found a flow. I stopped re-editing that email I forgot to send and quit ticking through what my next meeting would entail. Lost in the exploration of material, meaning, gesture, and play, it was good therapy for the body and the mind. 

The exercises we did together as a team were so successful that we are bringing them to a larger audience through our social calendar and through the occasional online program. This week, tune in on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook: Get inspired by Art21 artist Matthew Ritchie, create a work based on the prompt, and share using #Art21ArtBreak.

We all need some art breaks to get us through 2022, so I hope you will join us. 

Tina Kukielski
Susan Sollins Executive Director and Chief Curator
January 19, 2022

Deepen your connection to Art21

New educator resources for digital films

Developed to accompany films from our Extended Play and New York Close Up series, this special collection of Educators’ Guides are available individually, by featured artist, as free downloadable resources.

Our latest guide is designed to accompany the films featuring artist Marcel Dzama, including “Organizing Chaos,” “Making Movies with Amy Sedaris & Friends,” and “Drawing with Raymond Pettibon.”

Download now.

Explore: Climate Crisis

Maya Lin in her Manhattan studio, 2012. Production still from the Extended Play film, “Disappearing Bodies of Water.” © Art21, Inc. 2013.

Challenging viewers to recognize, investigate, and appreciate their surroundings, the artists in our Climate Crisis collection engage with environmental concerns to uncover opportunities to see the world through a new lens.

Highlight disappearing bodies of water with Maya Lin, convert arsoned houses into worm farms with Mel Chin, and travel through Western landscape on freeways with Robert Adams in our Climate Crisis collection.

Explore Climate Crisis.

Event: Laylah Ali artist talk

Join us from anywhere on Thursday, January 27, at 1:00 p.m. ET for a special presentation with artist Laylah Ali.

In celebration of the new Explore area of Art21.org, Art21 will host public programs around the themes, mediums, and narratives collected by Art21 staff. This installment draws inspiration from the artists featured in our “World Building” collection.

A Q&A will follow the presentation with Ali.

The program is free and will take place via Zoom.

Register now.

Upcoming workshop for educators

Join Art21 this 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.

Register now.

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