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Art In Conversation

Spencer Sweeney with Andrew Woolbright

In early May, Spencer Sweeney’s exhibition Perfect opened at the Brant Foundation. The drawings and paintings that spanned across the two floors of the foundation represented fifteen years of work and achieved the depth and dimension of both a retrospective and a concert . When the energy finally settled from the opening, we talked in his studio, where I found myself surrounded by the same palpable excitement and energy captured at the Brant. Next to his drums and guitars, and flanked by a ring of booming paintings still in progress, we discussed the shared spaces of music and painting, how painting can be used to anticipate and store the energy of an announcement, and how self-portraits can hold the tension of contradictions to emanate and reflect the soul.

Art In Conversation

Elle Pérez with Ksenia M. Soboleva

Elle Pérez locates intimacy that moves beyond bodily matter. Ranging from portraiture to landscape, their photographs capture the lived experience of bodies and nature, the transformations that occur across time and space. The distinct configurations in which Pérez presents their work in exhibition spaces offer a glimpse into the artist’s thought process, allowing the viewer into their creative constellation. I had the pleasure of being in conversation with Pérez on the occasion of their exhibition Devotions at the Baltimore Museum of Art, as well as their inclusion in this year’s Venice Biennale The Milk of Dreams. We spoke about their introduction to photography, its malleable qualities, and the ways in which thinking about gender has taken a backseat. Pérez generously described the process around Devotions, as well as the photographs in the Biennale, taking me on a journey to Puerto Rico and their first visit back after Hurricane Maria.

Art In Conversation

Raphael Montañez Ortiz with Ana Perry

Raphael Montañez Ortiz is an internationally renowned Brooklyn-born Puerto Rican artist and educator who grew up in New York City. He is the founder of El Museo del Barrio, where his current retrospective demonstrating his contributions to sculpture, performance, film, video, and activism is on view. Scholar Ana Cristina Perry spoke with the artist about his work and life, reflecting on his practice and decolonization; potlatch, play, and psychology; cinema and dreams; the Museum of Natural History; process and the object, and El Museo del Barrio.

Art In Conversation

Hew Locke with Emann Odufu

Guyanese British artist Hew Locke is at a pivotal moment in his thirty-plus year career as a fine artist. Most recently, Locke received the Tate Commission and created a sprawling installation composed of 140 human-sized figures and five horses in the Duveen Galleries of Tate Britain. This installation, on view until January 2023, has been his most ambitious and significant artistic endeavor to date and has received much critical acclaim. In September, Locke will be having another milestone moment as he will be installing a new series of work for the Met Museum’s Fifth Avenue facade niches. I sat down with Hew in his Brixton studio a few weeks after the opening of The Procession.

Art In Conversation

Cecilia Vicuña with Suzanne Herrera

“Hilo de agua, hilo de vida, hilo de voz”: These threads—and others nearby—weave together Cecilia Vicuña’s five-decades long artistic, poetic, and politically engaged practices. At the artist’s current exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum slender threads and wire drape thirty feet from the ceiling. Loose assemblages of translucent fabrics and small objects float in near-suspension, moving slightly with the flows of air and people’s movements in the room. This installation, Quipu del exterminio / Extermination Quipu (2022) reflects on environmental and cultural violence, survivals, and vibrancies.

The Historical Present: Collective Solitude at Coenties Slip

For the past five years I’ve been consumed by the story of a group of artists who lived and worked from 1956–1967 in nineteenth-century sailmaking and maritime lofts on a three-block radius at the southern tip of Manhattan, near the Battery and South Street seaport. They were a motley crew who all came from outside of the city and settled (illegally) into rough but cheap open spaces on Coenties Slip, one of New York’s oldest streets. Ellsworth Kelly and Jack Youngerman had just returned from Paris, carrying with them a legacy of abstraction but also an ambition to paint something new. Agnes Martin arrived from the southwest, already thinking of how the city’s landscape could structure her compositions. Lenore Tawney was starting over after another life in Chicago, eager to continue inventing ways to expand a loom’s capacities.

From the Publisher & Artistic Director

Dear Friends and Readers,

In spite of the relentless and constant horrors that occur in our daily lives, both at home with the US Supreme Court officially reversing Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion, which had been upheld for nearly half century, and the ongoing sagas of public hearing by the House committee investigating the Capitol riot of January 6, 2021, seeking to lay bare the full magnitude of former president Donald J. Trump’s aggressive attempts to remain in power after the 2020 election, while abroad, members of the NATO military alliance welcomed Sweden and Finland to “accession protocols” as the Russia-Ukraine war in the outskirts of the Luhansk region intensifies, we have no choice but to re-ask ourselves what are the primary functions of liberal democracy’s two opposing parties, the party of liberty and the party of equality?

Editor's Message

Abolition of a Category

Over the last several decades, scholars and curators have written about the historical richness and heterogeneity of Asian American art, yet art made by and about Asian Americans has remained for the most part unnoticed, an afterthought, or an oversight, especially in major thematic museum exhibitions and sweeping art histories.


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