Author(s): Tina Kukielski
Based on the award-winning series produced by Art21 and broadcast on PBS. Art21 films, educational programs and publications provide a diverse audience with unprecedented access to the personal and professional lives of the greatest creative minds of our time. Art21 is unique in that it collaborates with each artist on every program produced, providing them with a platform to speak directly to audiences. With the mission to inspire a more creative world through the works and words of contemporary artists, Art21 is the go-to place to learn firsthand from the artists of our time. Published on the occasion of the nonprofit organization's 21st anniversary, this compendium of artist interviews captures the engaging and seminal conversations that have taken place over the organization's history, serving as an essential primer on a generation of contemporary artists for those interested in the artistic process as a tool for curriculum building. In some cases, these interviews are previously unpublished. Examples include: Bruce Nauman reflecting on how his art makes viewers struggle; Julie Mehretu identifying "the poltergeist" in her work; Cai Guo-Qiang comparing the process of drawing with lovemaking; Nick Cave describing art as a vehicle to express his emotions; Maya Lin explaining why she keeps art and architecture separate; Catherine Opie narrating her work's evolution from street photography to representational photography; Kerry James Marshall expounding on why art making is about fighting for recognition; James Turrell meditating on spirituality in the arts; and Theaster Gates proposing possibilities for art to go beyond the making of objects. Select images of the artists and their artwork, pulled from Art21's expansive media library, illustrate the interviews.