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Entries from January 2021

The Awakening

January 27th, 2021 · Comments

Today is January 27, 2021. One week ago, we inaugurated new leaders in the United States. Many hope that President Joseph. Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris will cultivate an era of unity, democracy, and truth in this country. 

Multiple flashpoints complicated the year 2020. The relentless coronavirus pandemic, accelerating discrimination against people of color, heightened climate emergencies, and the imploding global economy had a intense polarizing effect on the electorate.

Kamala Harris, the first African-American and Asian American to become Vice President, is also the first woman to be given this tremendous opportunity. As she steps into a crucial role of responsibility, Harris inspires this episode. 

What part can creativity play in such turbulent times? 

We speak to six women artists and curators responding to the challenges of the past year with renewed resolve. Strengthening their engagement with vital issues and ideas, each one positions herself in service to social justice. Future episodes will reveal more about their individual awakenings.

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Special Audio: When We Gather, courtesy Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons and collaborators; Whitewash, courtesy artist Nadine Valcin; Celaje, courtesy artist Sofía Gallisá Muriente; All water has a perfect memory, courtesy artist Bahar Behbahani; Drip in water tunnel, New York City, courtesy artist Mary Mattingly; "This Earth,” by Susan Griffin, courtesy Andrea Bowers and performance participants 

Related Episodes: International Curators Champion Creative Resilience, Mapping Caribbean Cultural Ecologies, Where Art Meets Activism, Creative Time Summit Miami 2018, Bahar Behbahani on Politics and Persian Gardens, New Point of View at Venice Art Biennale, Mary Mattingly on the Art of Human Relationships, Andrea Bowers on Art and Activism

Related Links: Bahar Behbahani, Andrea Bowers, This Earth, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, When We Gather, Mary Mattingly, Public Water, Andrea Fatona, The State of Blackness, Marina Reyes Franco, Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico, Sofía Gallisá Muriente

Featured Voices in Order of Appearance

 

Born in Cuba and based in Nashville, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons teaches at Vanderbilt University. A dream led her to invite collaborators to celebrate all that Kamala Harris represents. Performance and poetry in the new art film When We Gather embody their collective hope and imagination.

 

Dr. Andrea Fatona is a Toronto-based curator and scholar who teaches in the graduate program at Ontario College of Art and Design University. For decades, she has sought to remedy the absence of Black visual art from critical writing, art archives and other avenues of representation. Whitewash, Nadine Valcin’s performance video about the history of slavery in Canada, is featured on Fatona's website: The State of Blackness.

 

Born and based in San Juan, Marina Reyes Franco is curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art. She talks about the Museum’s powerful new partner and introduces the metaphoric exhibition she will present this spring. In 2020, Reyes Franco took the time to support artist friend Sofía Gallisá Muriente in her creation of a new film. Sited on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico, Celaje is an elegy to the death of the Puerto Rican colonial project and the sedimentation of disasters on the island.

 

Water channels, fountains, roses and pools are elemental to the legendary Persian garden. Iranian-American artist Bahar Behbahani has been investigating the garden’s histories for years. In 2019, she created her first garden-inspired public art project at Wave Hill in the Bronx. In 2021, the artist aims to break ground on a purposeful Persian garden in Manhattan.

 

New York-based artist Mary Mattingly has always been concerned with sustainability, creating lyric environments that meet the basic needs of water, food, and shelter. Her latest project concerns the invisible infrastructure of public water in the city she calls home. Mattingly is diving deep—her urban case study exposes inequities that limit access to clean drinking water everywhere. 

 

Early 2020 found Los Angeles based artist Andrea Bowers joining other women to read and record the poem “This Earth,” by Susan Griffin. Studying the spiritual origins of eco-feminism was among her solitary pursuits last year. When the pandemic slowed her activist projects, Bowers turned to re-examine how and why she makes art. 

Tags: contemporary art · public art · activism · curator · black culture · black art · environment · feminism · museum · community · political art · feminist art

Glenn Kaino and Tommie Smith Take a Stand

January 13th, 2021 · Comments

Today’s story unfolds at the intersection of art, sports, and activism.

 

In 1968, Black American athlete Tommie Smith set a new world record. He became a gold medalist when he raced to win the 200-meter event at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

 

Yet Tommie Smith was only inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2019. Why did it take half a century for the international sports organization to recognize his record-breaking performance? 

 

Because in 1968, at the height of the civil rights struggle in America, Tommie Smith took a stand on racism and human rights at the awards ceremony in Mexico City. As he stood on the podium to accept his medal, he bowed his head and raised his fist in a silent salute. That year, the Olympics were broadcast on television live and in color for the first time ever. The whole world witnessed his gesture. 

 

Tommie Smith’s respectful protest marked his life in the years that followed, while motivating generations to stand up for equality. He continues to inspire us, encouraging everyone to take part in the ongoing quest for global human rights and racial justice. 

 

In this episode, you’ll hear from the athlete and two creatives he inspired: Japanese-American artist Glenn Kaino and Iranian-born cinematographer Afshin Shahidi. They came together to create an exhibition, public programs and a documentary film to tell Tommie Smith’s story.

 

When artist Glenn Kaino sought out the legendary Olympic runner as a creative collaborator, he recognized the enduring value of art as a means to preserve a noble act. With Drawn Arms amplifies Smith’s courage, bringing history to reckon with our contemporary moment. 

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio

Related Episodes: Black in America, Franklin Sirmans on the Art of Futbol, Athi-Patra Ruga on Global Human Rights

Related Links: Tommie Smith, Glenn Kaino, Afshin Shahidi, Mexico 1968 Summer Olympics, Olympic Project for Human Rights, High Museum of Art, San José Museum of Art, Colin Kaepernick, Kavi Gupta Gallery, Fresh Art International at Untitled Art Fair

Watch the Film: With Drawn Arms

 

Our Current Moment

Since early 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has held our planet in its grip. We have reckoned with isolation and the loss of friends and loved ones, and with the strange new normal of everyday life. The public health crisis has meant the delay or cancellation of cherished cultural and sports events. The 2020 Tribeca Film Festival and the Japan 2020 Summer Olympics, where the film With Drawn Arms was to be screened, were among thousands of casualties. 

In 2020, racial equity became a flashpoint on two fronts. The virus has been taking a greater toll on Blacks and people of color. Police violence against Blacks sparked a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement, triggering massive protests across the U.S. and abroad. The quest for racial equity and human rights continues.

Tags: contemporary art · film · sculpture · activism · black culture · black art · political art

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