From the Executive Director: Come Think with Me

December 1, 2021


This year, we released seventeen new films about seventeen artists, with production already underway for many more stories slated for release in 2022. Despite lockdowns, repeated COVID testing, mask wearing, half-complete exhibition calendars, and the complexities of travel, we found that artists were ready to meet our team with a lot to say. Something about all those months of confinement presented an opportunity for the opening of new doors—with new ways of thinking, doing, and making being shaped and, in turn, shared from artists’ studios. At Art21, we responded by debuting more content and more programming than ever before.
Recent releases with artists John Akomfrah, Tanya Aguiñiga, Doreen Garner, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, and Salman Toor were sent out into the world over the last few weeks. Please watch them all. When we set about the finishings of such a stellar collection of stories, we get a rush of adrenaline and excitement at the time of release. But the real work of our films lies in what happens when they travel, how they incite collaboration and exchange from desktops and classrooms beyond our walls. Our films are a toolkit for learning about the way ideas are made and how artists think. The richest ones are an open invitation to get up close and personal with the unerring creative drives that most of us hold within ourselves. Like art itself, some films give that kick right away, while others take years to show their true significance.
Borrowing from Kameelah Janan Rasheed’s reminder to go slow in her New York Close Up film debut, we too would like to take a pause at the end of this year and ease things up. Rasheed reminds us that a text is never finished; the same can be said of our film productions. Let us “not rush to meaning” says Rasheed. Instead, her offering of “come think with me” might be my favorite phrase of 2021. What an invitation, and yes please.
If you have found yourself coming to think with artists through Art21 this year, please consider supporting us with a year-end donation. However big or small, your contributions are significant and they ensure that viewers like you continue to have access to free, thought-provoking visual arts programming for years to come. Thank you for tuning in and supporting access to the stories, works, and ideas of some of the most innovative artists of our time.

Tina Kukielski
Susan Sollins Executive Director and Chief Curator
December 1, 2021

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Thanks to viewers like you, Art21 has grown to be the go-to place to discover art and learn first-hand from some of the greatest artists of our time.
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Brendan Fernandes discovers new models of support
Brendan Fernandes in Lurie Garden, Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois, 2021. Photo: Matthew Reeves.
How do we come together again?
Forced to consider the use of virtual environments as a way to facilitate performance during the pandemic, artist Brendan Fernandes reflected on the idea of safe spaces and their role in bringing people together.
Describing his recent performance in Chicago’s Lurie Garden, Fernandes savors the unifying potential of choreographed performance. “When the bodies come together, it melds, it mashes, and becomes this beautiful moving sculpture,” said Fernandes.
“They’re all supporting each other.”
Read the full interview.

Event: Liz Magor and Adam Milner in conversation
Join us from anywhere next Wednesday, December 8, at 1:00 p.m. ET for a special conversation between artists Liz Magor and Adam Milner.
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 inaugural installment draws inspiration from the artists featured in our (Un)Common Materials collection.
A Q&A will follow the conversation between Magor and Milner.
The program is free and will take place via Zoom.
Register now.

Explore: (Un)Common Materials
Jessica Stockholder in her studio, New Haven, CT, 2004. Production still from the Art in the Twenty-First Century episode, “Play.” © Art21, Inc. 2005.
Using common, underutilized, and discarded materials, the artists in our (Un)Common Materials collection seek to reimagine or reinform a public relationship to the material.
Become immersed in the myriad of found and acquired objects used in Jessica Stockholder‘s installations, inspect the biological materials in Jes Fan‘s sculptures, and absorb the explosiveness of Cai Guo-Qiang‘s gunpowder drawings in our (Un)Common Materials collection.
Explore (Un)Common Materials.

Upcoming workshop for educators
Join Art21 this Saturday, December 4, 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.
This coming workshop, “Personal Connections,” examines artists who have long used their work to explore and represent links between family, the self, and community.
Registration is free, but space is limited.
Register now.
Visit our education calendar for a list of upcoming workshops for educators.