"For us, the idea of having a work that has contradictions is very important—when, in affirming something, it includes itself and attacks itself. How can you put together all of these things that have nothing to do with each other? You use glue! Glue can be an idea, a word. You can use an ideological glue."
National Standards from the National Council for the Social Studies for Grades 9–12, USA
Art21 films and accompanying educational materials reflect the diversity of contemporary visual artists working today, and showcase the variety of cultural expression in the United States. Art21 resources emphasize the diversity of contemporary culture as a means of exploring unique perspectives on individual, social, and community life.
Time, continuity, and change
Contemporary art is part of the continuum of art history. Artists have always responded to the world around them. Artists featured in the Art21 films suggest a broad range of approaches to considering contemporary life in relation to historic events, individuals, and themes. The theme of time is featured in Season Two of the Art in the Twenty-First Century broadcast series.
Individual development and identity
Art provides an intimate reflection of identity—personal, cultural, and universal. Artists in the Art21 films reflect a range of creative role models, suggesting different means of expression and communication. Art21 educational materials encourage personal reflection as a way to consider larger cultural issues and ideas introduced by featured artists. The theme of identity is featured in Season One of the Art in the Twenty-First Century broadcast series.
Individuals, groups, and institutions
Making art is not necessarily a solitary act; it can be a social gesture that encompasses how an individual's ideas relate to a larger public. Art21 artists create work as community members and cultural participants who explore ideas—often with the assistance of individual and institutional support. Art21 educational materials encourage students to draw connections to personal experience and social knowledge.
Power, authority, and governance
Inspired by the world around them, many Art21 featured artists address contemporary themes such as power, control, authority, and hierarchical structures in their work. Often taking an anti-establishment position, many artists address and critique traditions and systems that have historically been taken for granted. The theme of power is featured in Season Three of the Art in the Twenty-First Century broadcast series.
Production, distribution, and consumption
Issues related to contemporary capitalism are present in the work of many Art21 artists. These artists suggest new ways to consider issues about the production, distribution, and consumption of creative capital in society. Art21 educational materials support student inquiry through the work of relevant artists. The theme of consumption is featured in Season One of the Art in the Twenty-First Century broadcast series.
Science, technology, and society
Many Art21 artists incorporate interdisciplinary approaches to their work, including the study and practice of science. The series features artists using new technologies, materials, and methods to make their work. The theme of structures is featured in Season Three of the Art in the Twenty-First Century broadcast series.
Diverse backgrounds and the ease of international travel strongly influence many of the artists featured in the Art21 films. These artists are inspired by the richness of their cultural heritage and the global communities in which they work. Their art reflects the diversity of these influences and offers students the opportunity to consider how ideas and traditions connect and diverge across cultures.
Civic ideals and practices
Many of the artists featured in the Art21 films consider art a social practice and a means of participating in society. Educational materials encourage interactive and participatory learning. Using personal knowledge, students reflect on the art and ideas of featured artists, as a way to consider larger social, civic, and community-based issues.
- On Contemporary Art
- Materials for Teaching