Category Archives: art

The Land Carries Our Ancestors: Contemporary Art by Native Americans

By Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, heather ahtone, Joy Harjo, and Shana Bushyhead Condill (2023)

The Land Carries Our Ancestors: Contemporary Art by Native Americans brings together works by many of today’s most boldly innovative Native American artists. Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, one of the leading artists and curators of her generation, has carefully chosen some fifty works across a diversity of practices—including weaving, beadwork, sculpture, painting, printmaking, drawing, photography, performance, and video—that share the common thread of the land.

Posted in art, culture, environment, exhibition, history, myth

Black Meme: A History of the Images That Make Us

By Legacy Russell (2024)

In Black Meme, Legacy Russell, award-winning author of the groundbreaking Glitch Feminism, explores the “meme” as mapped to Black visual culture from 1900 to the present, mining both archival and contemporary media.

Russell argues that without the contributions of Black people, digital culture would not exist in its current form. These meditations include the circulation of lynching postcards; why a mother allowed Jet magazine to publish a picture of her dead son, Emmett Till; and how the televised broadcast of protesters in Selma changed the debate on civil rights.

Questions of the media representation of Blackness come to the fore as Russell considers how a citizen-recorded footage of the LAPD beating Rodney King became the first viral video. And the Anita Hill hearings shed light on the media’s creation of the Black icon. The ownership of Black imagery and death is considered in the story of Tamara Lanier’s fight to reclaim the daguerreotypes of her enslaved ancestors from Harvard. Meanwhile the live broadcast on Facebook of the murder of Philando Castile by the police after he was stopped for a broken taillight forces us to bear witness to the persistent legacy of the Black meme.

Through imagery, memory and technology Black Meme shows us how images of Blackness have always been central to our understanding of the modern world.

Posted in art, culture, history, media, photography, politics, printmaking, semiotics, technology, theory

Contact: Art and the Pull of Print

By Jennifer L. Roberts (2024)

In process and technique, printmaking is an art of physical contact. From woodcut and engraving to lithography and screenprinting, every print is the record of a contact event: the transfer of an image between surfaces, under pressure, followed by release. Contact reveals how the physical properties of print have their own poetics and politics and provides a new framework for understanding the intelligence and continuing relevance of printmaking today.

The seemingly simple physics of printmaking brings with it an array of metamorphoses that give expression to many of the social and conceptual concerns at the heart of modern and contemporary art. Exploring transformations such as reversal, separation, and interference, Jennifer Roberts explores these dynamics in the work of Christiane Baumgartner, David Hammons, Edgar Heap of Birds, Jasper Johns, Corita Kent, Glenn Ligon, Julie Mehretu, Robert Rauschenberg, and many other leading artists who work at the edge of the medium and beyond.

Posted in art, culture, design, history, language, media, printmaking, technology, theory

Pictures of the Floating World

By Sarah E. Thompson (2022)

In this attractive volume, Sarah E. Thompson, curator of Japanese art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, provides a highly readable overview of the cultural and artistic history of ukiyo-e, showcasing 120 exceptional prints from the museum’s world-class collection, by masters including Utamaro, Hokusai, and Hiroshige. She explores each of the principal genres in turn: beauty and fashion, the kabuki theater, landscape, nature, history and literature, and fantasy.

Posted in art, culture, history, printmaking

Piranesi and the Modern Age


By Victor Plahte Tschudi (2022)

The etchings of the Italian printmaker, architect, and antiquarian Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–78) have long mesmerized viewers. But, as Victor Plahte Tschudi shows, artists and writers of the modern era found in these works — Piranesi’s visions of contradictory space, endless vistas, and self-perpetuating architecture — a formulation of the modern. In Piranesi and the Modern Age, Tschudi explores the complex appropriation and continual rediscoveries of Piranesi by modern literature, photography, art, film, and architecture.

Posted in architecture, art, cinema, culture, media, printmaking, psychology

The Renaissance of Etching


By Catherine Jenkins, Nadine M. Orenstein, and Freyda Spira (2019)

The etching of images on metal, originally used as a method for decorating armor, was first employed as a printmaking technique at the end of the 15th century. This in-depth study explores the origins of the etched print, its evolution from decorative technique to fine art, and its spread across Europe in the early Renaissance, leading to the professionalization of the field in the Netherlands in the 1550s. Beautifully illustrated, this book features the work of familiar Renaissance artists, including Albrecht Dürer, Jan Gossart, Pieter Breughel the Elder, and Parmigianino, as well as lesser known practitioners, such as Daniel Hopfer and Lucas van Leyden, whose pioneering work paved the way for later printmakers like Rembrandt and Goya. The book also includes a clear and fascinating description of the etching process, as well as an investigation of how the medium allowed artists to create highly detailed prints that were more durable than engravings and more delicate than woodblocks.

Posted in art, exhibition, history, printmaking, technology

Lo—TEK: Design by Radical Indigenism

By Julia Watson (2019)

Three hundred years ago, intellectuals of the European Enlightenment constructed a mythology of technology. Influenced by a confluence of humanism, colonialism, and racism, this mythology ignored local wisdom and indigenous innovation, deeming it primitive. Today, we have slowly come to realize that the legacy of this mythology is haunting us.

Designers understand the urgency of reducing humanity’s negative environmental impact, yet perpetuate the same mythology of technology that relies on exploiting nature. Responding to climate change by building hard infrastructures and favoring high-tech homogenous design, we are ignoring millennia-old knowledge of how to live in symbiosis with nature. Without implementing soft systems that use biodiversity as a building block, designs remain inherently unsustainable.

Lo—TEK, derived from Traditional Ecological Knowledge, is a cumulative body of multigenerational knowledge, practices, and beliefs, countering the idea that indigenous innovation is primitive and exists isolated from technology. It is sophisticated and designed to sustainably work with complex ecosystems.

Posted in art, culture, design, environment, history, myth, science, technology

Ecoart in Action

Edited by Amara Geffen, Ann Rosenthal, Chris Fremantle, and Aviva Rahmani (2022)

How do we educate those who feel an urgency to address our environmental and social challenges? What ethical concerns do art-makers face who are committed to a deep green agenda? How can we refocus education to emphasize integrative thinking and inspire hope? What role might art play in actualizing environmental resilience?

Compiled from 67 members of the Ecoart Network, a group of more than 200 internationally established practitioners, Ecoart in Action stands as a field guide that offers practical solutions to critical environmental challenges.

Posted in art, education, environment, science

Making and Being

By Susan Jahoda and Caroline Woolard (2019)

Making and Being offers a framework for teaching art that emphasizes contemplation, collaboration, and political economy. Authors Susan Jahoda and Caroline Woolard, two visual arts educators and members of the collective BFAMFAPhD, share ideas and teaching strategies that they have adapted to spaces of learning which range widely, from self-organized workshops for professional artists to Foundations BFA and MFA thesis classes. This hands-on guide includes activities, worksheets, and assignments and is a critical resource for artists and art educators today. Making and Being is a book, a series of videos, a deck of cards, and an interactive website with freely downloadable content.

Posted in art, education

Ray Johnson c/o

Edited by Caitlin Haskell and Jordan Carter (2021)

Ray Johnson (1927–1995) was a renowned maker of meticulous collages whose works influenced movements including Pop Art, Fluxus, and Conceptual Art. Emerging from the interdisciplinary community of artists and poets at Black Mountain College, Johnson was extraordinarily adept at using social interaction as an artistic endeavor and founded a mail art network known as the New York Correspondence School. Drawing on the vast collection of Johnson’s work at the Art Institute of Chicago, this volume gives new shape to our understanding of his artistic practice and features hundreds of pieces that include artist’s books, collages, drawings, mail art, and performance documentation.

Posted in art, design, exhibition, language, media, semiotics, typography