“I especially hope to inspire young women because I often feel like so much emphasis is put on how beautiful you are and how thin you are, and not a lot of emphasis is put on what you can do and how smart you are. I’d like to change the emphasis of what’s important when looking at a woman.”
In a previously unseen Art21 interview that was recorded in 2000, the late Margaret Kilgallen (1967-2001) discusses the female figures or “heroines” incorporated into many of her paintings and graffiti tags. Loosely based on women she discovered while listening to folk records, watching buck dance videos, or reading about the history of swimming, Kilgallen’s heroines are meant to inspire others and hopefully change how society looks at women. Today’s Exclusive features three of Kilgallen’s heroines—Matokie Slaughter, Algia Mae Hinton, and Fanny Durack—who are shown and heard through archival video, images, and audio recordings.
Since its premiere last week on Hyperallergic (one of our 100 Artists media partners), Margaret Kilgallen: “Heroines” has already reached thousands of online viewers. The immediate popularity of this video can only, in my opinion, be attributed to the lasting power of Kilgallen’s ideas and images. As the video was shared across social media platforms, it was clear how much Kilgallen’s artwork has stayed in the minds and hearts of her longtime fans and old friends, and even touched those newly discovering her artwork.
As footage of Kilgallen at work continues to circulate and motivate young artists, this video also provides the opportunity to learn about the three women that Kilgallen herself found inspiring. “[They] just do small things and yet somehow hit me in my heart,” she said. Though these women are accomplished musicians or athletes, their names are not widely known. In searching for photographs, footage, and audio recordings of them for our episode, I came to learn a tremendous amount about their lives, largely through friends, recording partners, and fans. For the remainder of this post I will share some of what I learned so that, perhaps, you will appreciate their lives and achievements as much as Kilgallen did.
Over the past few weeks I’ve thoroughly enjoyed talking and e-mailing with two more of our current Art21 Educators, Jethro Gillespie and Jack Watson. Jethro teaches Studio Art, 3D Design, Ceramics and more at Maple Mountain High School in Utah while Jack teaches 2D Art and Art History at Chapel High School in North Carolina.
Similar to Julia Coppersmith and Maureen Hergott, whom I interviewed a few weeks back, Jethro and Jack have an infectious passion for the the things they teach and accomplish with students. Both look for ways to better engage their classes on a consistent basis and avoid “window dressing” projects that may look pretty but aren’t necessarily about very much…
Since participating in the summer institute, could you describe a significant change, improvement or extension of your teaching practice? Has the experience also in some way affected your own art making?
Jack Watson: There are lots of little ways that the Art21 experience works its way into my classroom – visual brainstorming with post-its, discussion prompts, the “parking lot” – but I think the most significant change to my pedagogy is reframing my curriculum within central questions, as opposed to objectives. Like most teachers, I was trained to construct lessons rooted in standards with clearly defined objectives. This is useful if you want your students to produce the same result, but frustrating and limited for working with open-ended ideas and contemporary art practices. A framework of central questions opens the space to dialogue, ideas and possibilities.
As for my own practice, I’ve learned to embrace chance, and to focus more on the process than the product. I think in particular of our visit to Oliver Herring’s studio in Brooklyn. His work is so process-oriented, and he made such a strong impression on all of us that week. I was most surprised that his studio was devoid of any of the trappings of a traditional artist’s studio: no easels, paints, etc. Aside from some photos and a pile of TASK artifacts, I remember it being an open space full of possibilities- much like the classrooms we’re trying to create. He might resist this metaphor, but it left an impression on me!
Jethro Gillespie: The most visible change in my own teaching since the summer institute is the inclusion of TASK parties. I’ve organized various TASK events with my own students at school and at 3 different conferences for fellow art educators since the summer institute. And to echo what Jack said, meeting Oliver Herring was for me probably the most memorable and inspiring part of that experience.
For me, TASK is so simple and so brilliant- I think the underlying, formative ideas behind TASK have to do with the relationship of the participants that engage with it, and also focusing more on the process than the product. As a teacher, having a TASK party with my students (right at the beginning of the school year) demonstrated and nurtured a genuine trust between me and my students, especially when it came to issues of power and control in the classroom.
In my first few years of teaching I tried to “manage” my class with some admittedly top-down, almost militant strategies in order to try and ‘control’ different situations. This ultimately left most kids feeling dis-empowered and often led to power struggles that I didn’t want to deal with. I’ve since tried to examine and focus my teaching practice on building a healthy and generative class environment in order to help students feel more empowered- especially when it comes to creating meaningful student art projects. Being involved with TASK has really helped me to re-examine my own teaching practice concerning these issues of relinquishing control in order to form relationships of trust with my students. And as an art teacher, TASK has also helped me shift my focus away from simply getting students to produce things, and towards getting students more involved with the process of creating.
In this week’s roundup, Margaret Kilgallen summer selections, Mark Dion in the Netherlands, Kiki Smith in conversation, Laurie Simmons, virtually, and much more.
- Margaret Kilgallen: Summer / Selections is now on view at Ratio 3 (San Francisco). This includes works on paper and paintings on canvas, some never before seen. The work emphasizes Margaret Kilgallen’s resourcefulness and economy of materials and features the artist’s iconic motifs such as leaves, trees, topography, and female figures, This exhibition closes August 5.
- Alfredo Jaar and Krysztof Wodiczko have work in Galerie Lelong’s (NYC) Interventions in the Landscape, a collective exhibition of photos and films exploring the landscape as a medium for social discourse. As an activation of an array of sites charged with social and political connotations, these artists give voice to the terrain, allowing it to enter into an exchange with the subject and viewer. The exhibition will run until August 5.
- The Bronx Museum (NYC), a friend of Art21, presents Taking AIM: 30-Year Anniversary Exhibition. The Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) program has helped to demystify the often opaque professional practices of the art world for artists at the beginning of their careers and has introduced their work to the public. The exhibition features sculptures, works on paper, video installations, photographs, and other works by 72 participants in AIM 2011. The show closes on September 5.
- Mark Dion is among 100 international artists whose work has been selected for viewing in the Deichtorhallen (Netherlands). The works show the many different layers of two private contemporary art collections as well as the various unknown aspects of them. The exhibition will run until August 21.
While in California, I made a pit stop to see Art in the Streets at MOCA in Los Angeles. Art in the Streets is the first major historical exhibition of graffiti and street art organized by a major American cultural institution. Opening this year in LA, it will travel to the Brooklyn Museum in 2012. Days after opening to the public, the LA show came under fire from local law enforcement for spawning a rash of tagging near the museum. Public areas outside the venue have become targets for taggers who want to leave their mark. The museum says this response was anticipated and will be cleaned up. In a show of support, local street artists say the exhibition is giving a boost to neighboring businesses. The overall opinion in the local art community is that the controversy surrounding the show is a good thing because it focuses attention on the lack of creative outlets for artists in the city. On the other hand, many street artists are still questioning the decision by MOCA director and show curator Jeffrey Deitch to whitewash a mural by Italian artist Blu late last year. These events and debates pose questions of whether or not graffiti and street art have a place in the mainstream art world, or even in the grand narrative of art history. My affirmative responses to these questions will be addressed as I go along.
To walk into the Geffen Contemporary in LA’s Little Tokyo neighborhood is to enter the realm of pure unadulterated street art. It is also to experience what is now a thriving knowledge culture that merges specialized forms of representation: alphabets, drawings, paintings (graffiti), films/videos, pop culture artifacts from times long past, and so on. One word that came to mind after seeing the show was “overwhelming.” I was struck by the urban detritus, hip-hop bricolage, bright colors, lights, and sounds in the various galleries on the lower level. This work emerged from a culture that has grown through the creation and application of art forms that are heavily layered, rich in imagery and metaphor. Most of the artists selected for Art in the Streets have used urban environments as their canvas. Many had been excluded from displaying their work inside of major art museums and galleries and opted to create their art outside of the doors that were previously closed to them. In an interview for Juxtapoz magazine the curators of this landmark exhibition, including longtime supporter Jeffrey Deitch, discuss this development:
[I] love this difference between graffiti and street art from more mainstream museum art. If you get into a museum or gallery in that world, it is after this long process of going to the right art school, with the right teacher, the right assistant job for a famous artist, the right recommendations, a review in the right art magazine, and finally the endorsement, and you can then show your work in a little gallery. We are dealing with artists that had nothing to do with these obstacles.
In this week’s roundup, Vija Celmins explores the desert, sea and stars, Laurie Anderson and Carrie Mae Weems explore vinyl record culture, Mark Dion explores oceanography, and more.
- Vija Celmins explores moving ocean surfaces, sparse desert landscapes, and vast starry skies in Vija Celmins. Desert, Sea, and Stars at the Museum Ludwig in Köln, Germany. The artist begins with black-and-white photographs on which the artist instills with new life as she reimagines them into a new medium. The show closes July 17.
- Laurie Anderson and Carrie Mae Weems are part of The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl, the first museum exhibition to explore the culture of vinyl records within the history of contemporary art. Through sculpture, installation, drawing, painting, photography, sound work, video, and performance, The Record combines contemporary art with outsider art, audio with visual, and fine art with popular culture. The exhibition is on view at the ICA Boston through September 5.
- Mark Dion‘s Souvenirs of Mysterious Seas is a continuation of his investigations as a naturalist, archaeologist, and traveler. The artist explores the collections of the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco to create the largest ever curiosity cabinet of the sea and exhibits. At the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (NMNM), Dion presents a major intervention and a selection of artists at Villa Paloma, one of the NMNM’s exhibition spaces. OCEANOMANIA will be on view concurrently at the Oceanographic Museum and at Villa Paloma through September 30.
In this week’s roundup, Barry McGee tags a street market in LA, Margaret Kilgallen is remembered, Matthew Barney to be awarded in San Francisco, Allan McCollum electrifies objects in Florida, and much more.
- Barry McGee, along with Todd James and Steve Powers, are joining forces to recreate Street Market at MOCA (Los Angeles) for Art in the Streets. The installation is their vision of an urban street that includes a liquor store, a bodega, and much more. Battered trucks, bombed with graffiti tags by McGee, lay upended on the gallery floor. The MOCA exhibition will open April 17 and close on August 8.
- The legacy of Margaret Kilgallen is featured as the newsstand cover for Juxtapoz magazine’s April 2011 issue dedicated to Art in the Streets, the first major historical survey of graffiti and street art in North America. For this particular occasion, the magazine reprinted an interview with Kilgallen from the May/June 1999 issue. Barry McGee and Raymond Pettibon are also featured in this issue.
- Matthew Barney will receive the Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award at the 54th San Francisco International Film Festival, which will run April 21 through May 5. Barney will receive his award on April 30 and also participate in an onstage interview with writer, critic and curator Glen Helfand, just before the North American premiere of Drawing Restraint 17 at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas.
In this week’s roundup, Louise Bourgeois’s art arrives in Latin America, Margaret Kilgallen and Barry McGee are part of a major street art exhibition, Tim Hawkinson plans to build a 41-foot guardian in San Francisco, and more.
- Louise Bourgeois is being presented for the first time in Latin America at Fundación Proa (Buenos Aires) and Instituto Tomie Ohtake (Sao Paulo). Louise Bourgeois: The Return of the Repressed, a comprehensive overview covering 60 years of artistic production, from her early beginnings until 2009. In the curator’s words, “All the works have been selected to highlight the enduring presence of psychoanalysis as a motivational force and a site of exploration in her life and work.” The exhibition will be on view March 19 — June 19.
- Margaret Kilgallen, Barry McGee, and several other artists are part of Art in the Streets, the first major U.S. museum exhibition of the history of graffiti and street art. The show originates at MOCA in Los Angeles and will be at the Brooklyn Museum in 2012. A highlight of the exhibition will be a Los Angeles version of Street Market, a re-creation of an urban street complete with overturned trucks by Barry McGee, Todd James, and Steve Powers. The MOCA exhibition will be on view from April 17 — August 8.
- Eleanor Antin collaborates with artists, musicians, and scholars to present Igor Stravinsky’s “The Soldier’s Tale,” which is part of the UCSD chamber music series, Camera Lucida, now in its third season. Stravinsky’s rarely played piece is a collaboration between UCSD and the San Diego Symphony. The performance will take place on Monday, April 11, at 8pm.
Students often have lots of interest and questions about graffiti, graffiti art and street art. My response usually includes the fact that I love graffiti art and street art, especially if the artist takes their time to make something that’s really well designed (and in some cases has permission to create it). From my perspective, you can’t make a quality work of art in a few seconds while simultaneously looking over your shoulder for the cops. That’s where I draw the line between art and vandalism. Vandalism includes tagging/defacing a space that the artist knows will have to be washed off immediately (store windows, front doors of businesses, subway token booths, etc.). Fortunately, most graffiti artists create works in spots that can linger for a while. And some linger for a long, long time, which is great if they are well done, whether they exist as an artist’s tag or as a painting that includes the artist’s tag.
Barry McGee and the late Margaret Kilgallen are featured in season 1 and address the idea of graffiti as an art form- an art form where you see the artist’s hand in the work vs. things like billboards, which Margaret Kilgallen calls “mind garbage”. Barry McGee goes on to make the point that graffiti can simply be painted over with a roller- something you cannot do with a really bad commercial jingle that stays in your head.
There are literally tons of books and sites that help us teach about graffiti as an art form, even Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop has been nominated for an Oscar at this point, but three resources I want to point out this week include two websites- The Dirt Floor and Brooklyn Street Art- and the film Bomb It.
With Inspire Your Heart With Art Day in mind, this week’s roundup finds the New Museum rethinking contemporary art through several Art21 artists’ works, Arturo Herrera exploring abstraction in two exhibitions, Gabriel Orozco boomeranging, and more.
- Several Art21 artists are featured in New Museum’s Rethinking Contemporary Art and Multicultural Education including Mark Bradford, Cao Fei, Margaret Kilgallen, An-My Lê, Barry McGee, Julie Mehretu, and Kara Walker. This publication provides accessible and practical tools for teachers while offering new art, essays, and content to account for transitions and changes in both the fields of art and education.
- Rethinking Contemporary Art and Multicultural Education will also host a related discussion on contemporary art and education featuring Kara Walker, among a few others. A reception for the book, participating artists, and contributors immediately follows the discussion. The event will take place on February 24, 7:00 pm.
- Arturo Herrera has work currently on view at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. (NYC). His self-titled exhibition features new works on paper and large scale wall paintings that explore fragmentations as a mode for abstraction. The show will be on view until March 5.
In this week’s roundup: Allora & Calzadilla play Beethoven from inside their pianos, Margaret Kilgallen will soon be honored, Laurie Anderson is planning delusions for Chicago, and more.
- Bruce Nauman‘s Office Edit I (Fat Chance John Cage) from Mapping the Studio (2001) is on view as part of SFMoMA’s Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera Since 1870. Nauman’s video, now part of the museum’s permanent collection, exposes the camera a medium for displaying how we interact with each other. The exhibition in on view until April 17, 2011.
- Mark Bradford donates $100,000 to launch a Kickstarter initiative called United States Artists or USA Projects, that is opening up a new front for art philanthropy. It’s described as a “fund-raising social networking Web site” that exists to discover the best artists in the United States.
- Check out Allora & Calzadilla at the MoMA from now until January 10. They will be performing their Stop, Repair, Prepare hourly in the Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium, beginning at 11:30 a.m. each day. This piece was acquired by MoMA in 2009 and is being publicly performed in the Museum for the first time.