Tenth Anniversary

Things to Be Thankful For

Here at DS, we’re grateful for our many readers and supporters around the world. We thank our hard-working writers, editors, and admin staff. And we’re indebted to a fantastic community of our colleagues—among them the ten arts workers who today share their current sources of inspiration, energy, and hope.

Agnes Denes. Wheatfield - A Confrontation: Battery Park Landfill (view with Statue of Liberty across the Hudson), 1982.

Agnes Denes. Wheatfield – A Confrontation: Battery Park Landfill (view with Statue of Liberty across the Hudson), 1982.

Taylor Renee Aldridge
Co-founder of ARTS.BLACK, a journal for art criticism from Black perspectives

Writer adrienne maree brown recently shared with me the strength of the oak tree. The oak tree, which is a symbol of endurance and sustainability, is deeply rooted beneath the earth’s surface, and its roots spread horizontally four to seven times the width of the tree’s height. As oak tree roots spread within the soil, it connects with the roots of other oak trees, creating bound systems of support between oak trees that are side by side. As a result, in extreme storms, they may be moved but are never broken. I think of myself as an oak tree who is perpetually bound and held up by the support of my peers, colleagues, and loved ones. I can weather any storm; I am reminded of my resilience. During this season, I am most thankful for my communities that continue to hold me up and provide unconditional support.

Prem Krishnamurthy
Founding Principal of Project Projects, Founder and Curator of P!, Faculty at the Center for Curatorial Studies​ at Bard College

One word: honesty. Amidst all the hubbub, the hyperbole, the false enthusiasm, the bullshit, and the bald-faced lies, there are a core group of friends and colleagues whom I can usually count on to be direct and tell the whole truth, even when it hurts a little. In times like these (after we thought everyone agreed with us, but it turned out to be just self-delusion and narcissism), it seems more important than ever to be supportive of each other while still critical. This is the only way the world moves along a little and things can change.

Sharon Louden
Artist, Advocate, Editor of Living and Sustaining a Creative Life books

When I wake up in the morning, I always feel grateful that I am an artist, that I can make anything out of nothing, that I can share privilege, that I can share opportunities to grow culture. What gives me the support and encouragement to live freely is the comfort of my loving and vibrant community, which is essential to my being. This community includes all generations, critics, curators, museum professionals, students, and all are generous. I learn from them and am grateful to be able to thrive in their company. It is the absolute best time to be an artist.

Jessica Lynne
Co-founder of ARTS.BLACK, a journal for art criticism from Black perspectives

This year, as I have learned to better brave the injustices of this world, I have turned increasingly to the lives and legacies of those who have come before me to gather the tools and skills needed to care for my body, mind, and spirit. In the midst of a tumultuous political climate such as the one in which we find ourselves currently, learning from the words and actions of individuals such as Shirley Chisholm, Stuart Hall, Bayard Rustin, and Claudia Jones, to name a few, has inspired me tremendously. I remain thankful for this archive to which I am clinging as I work in the best way I know how for justice alongside my friends and colleagues.

Alpesh Kantilal Patel
Curator, critic, art historian; monograph Productive failure: Writing queer transnational South Asian art histories forthcoming from Manchester University Press

Over the past two weeks, I have done forty-one studio visits, scheduled prior to the election, with MFA candidates at Cranbrook Academy of Arts in Michigan. I spent about an hour with each artist or architect. I am tired physically but invigorated, too. It’s been like a drug—give me more! I was reminded forty-one times what an amazing group of artists are coming up through the pipeline who are doing brilliant works of all kinds—from the formal to the political. I’ve seen a kind of future I refused to believe could exist: hopeful—even glorious—without being amnesiac.

Claudia La Rocco
Claudia La Rocco is a writer and the editor-in-chief of SFMOMA’s Open Space​

Tongo Eisen-Martin’s words, to remind that the choice between art & activism is a false one. Agnes Martin’s deceptively calm surfaces, one grid after another floating up the Guggenheim’s grand spiral. Jodi Melnick’s moment-by-moment movement. The Chocolate Factory Theater. The Prelinger Archives. What Anthony Hernandez sees. Glimpsing, through Bill Berkson & Connie Lewallen, what a life lived for & with art can be. Simone White’s honed yet porous poem-containersOpen Space, in its expanse & its particulars; all of the meticulous craft that goes into making it exist, repeated daily on the 10th floor alongside Gordon Faylor & Grace Ambrose.

Roberta Smith
Co-chief art critic at The New York Times

Art is the stone thrown in the pond of my existence. Everything else ripples out from there. It makes possible my writing—which is my escape from, my defense against, and my way of connecting to the world. Whether good, bad, or indifferent, art always teaches me about its nature and about the human need to make it. And then around the art, equally important, are the people determined to create, write about, or show it that form the core of the art world, namely artists, curators, critics, and art dealers (and, for me, gallery receptionists). Beyond all this there’s New York City, the great incubator.

Kristina Lee Podesva
artist, writer, and editor of Fillip

Eleanor Antin, Janine Antoni, Ida Applebroog, Julie Ault, Dodie Bellamy, Hannah Black, Louise Bourgeois, Tania Bruguera, Claude Cahun, Rebecca Belmore, Sophie Calle, Lygia Clark, Hanne Darboven, Agnes Denes, Trisha Donnelly, Tracey Emin, Valie Export, Andrea Fraser, Regina José Galindo, Isa Genzken, Guerrilla Girls, Mona Hatoum, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Eva Hesse, Leslie Hewitt, Hannah Höch, Nancy Holt, Jenny Holzer, Sanja Ivekovic, Chris Kraus, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Zoe Leonard, Linder, Lucy Lippard, Teresa Margolles, Ana Mendieta, Trinh T. Min-ha, Yoko Ono, Adrian Piper, Carol Rama, Lisa Robertson, Martha Rosler, Pipilotti Rist, Carolee Schneeman, Bonnie Sherk, Martine Syms, Toyen, Gillian Wearing, Carrie Mae Weems, Hannah Wilke

Frances Richard
Author Anarch., The Phonemes, See Through; coauthor of Odd Lots: Revisiting Gordon Matta-Clark’s “Fake Estates”

I am thankful for the conversations I had today in grad student studios: About the sifting of archives and the contemplation of queer ancestors as a kind of filial-historical cruising, a libidinal mapping of the terrain of the past; about queer care and the ethics of impossible hope as magic; about the embodied drifting that is the passing down of stories, and the intimate distance of the parent’s accent. (These are 3 different hours with three separate people.) I am grateful for every artist in my circle posting articles, circulating Paul Ryan’s phone number [202-225-3031], vowing not to normalize celebrity-supremacist fascism, collecting cold-weather outerwear to send to Standing Rock, and still and still and still making their work.

Namita Wiggers
Curator, writer, educator, and leader of Critical Craft Forum

There is much to fear in the immediate future. But we are not starting from scratch. For the past thirty, fifty, hundreds of years, people have and will continue to voice and plan ways to increase inclusion and difference in board rooms, conferences, meetings, exhibitions, essays, collectors’ homes, classrooms, on the street. I entered the contemporary art world in the late 1980s in the midst of the Culture Wars and AIDS crisis. That was then. This is now, a different present then we thought possible in 1990. The future will be different, too, because we are here, and like many before us and those to come, we are not alone. And because we are not alone, we are strong.  For this, I am thankful.