Luis Cruz Azaceta (b.1942) creates paintings and mixed media works which use the recurring theme of the displaced individual. Marked by his own exile from Cuba—he emigrated to the U.S. in 1960, in the wake of Castro’s take-over—the artist realized that home is something he carries with him from place to place. Through his piercing expressionism, Azaceta depicts the frailty of human existence in a world full of social anarchy, historically mandated violence, and natural chaos.
Company Line is a film about one of the first predominately Black neighborhoods in Mansfield, Ohio. The title, Company Line, refers to the name historically used by residents to describe their neighborhood, located on the north side of town close to the old steel mill. The Company Line began during the post–war migration of Blacks from the south to the north in the late 1940’s. The neighborhood was purchased in the early 1970s and its residents were scattered throughout Mansfield.
Stephen Varble (1946-1984) staged gender-confounding costume performances on the streets of 1970s Manhattan, and he became infamous for his anti-commercial disruptions of galleries, banks, and boutiques. In 1978, he retreated from this public work to focus on the making of an epic, unfinished piece of video art, Journey to the Sun, until his death in the first days of 1984. Lush, ribald, and unorthodox, the video mixed non-narrative costume performances with a surrealist fable of a messianic martyr, the Warbler.
The 1970s witnessed unprecedented artistic development of non-traditional media – chief among them were textiles and fabrics. Diane Itter was at the forefront of this boom in craft-oriented art making, designing colorful, geometric and exceedingly intricate fiber works that demanded near countless hours of time to execute. In this interview she discusses her practice, as well as the pitfalls that are encountered while working in what was – at the time of the interview – a still largely marginalized art form.
This surreal, free-form autobiography is concerned with childhood and adult rituals, and the longing for meaning and connection during the often wildly absurd events of early life. Obsessive Becoming returns to Reeves’s early exploration of personal narrative forms, poetry, and his interest in creating a more spontaneous and direct fusion between language and video. Words and images of the expectations and disappointments of coming of age break down the boundaries of both mediums.
A philosopher and intermedia artist, Adrian Piper focuses on xenophobia, racism, and racial stereotyping
“As a black woman who can 'pass' and a Professor of Philosophy who leads a double life as an avant-garde artist, Piper has understandably focused on self-analysis and social boundaries. Over the years her work in performance, texts, newspaper, unannounced street events, videos, and photographs has developed an increasingly politicized and universalized image of what the self can mean.”
For the past 20 years Alexis Smith's mixed media work has explored primal American myths: the open road, the bad/good guy/gal, the quest for romance, and the search for paradise. This portrait of the artist explores the roots of her thought and work, and was produced in conjunction with her exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, held in November 1991.
Washington, D.C.-based African-American artist Sylvia Snowden paints what she calls “figural or structural abstract expressionist” works. Three years after this tape was produced, her son was shot to death, and she spent the next three years producing 87 works in a variety of media.
Best known for her drawings and prints, Nancy Spero (1926-2009) worked as an oil painter on both paper and canvas and with installations. As both artist and activist, Nancy Spero's career spanned fifty years. Spero was active in many radical groups including WAR (Women Artists and Revolution) and AIR (Artists in Residence), the first women’s cooperative gallery in New York. She was renowned for her continuous engagement with contemporary political, social, and cultural concerns.
Born in Los Angeles in 1933, Michelle Stuart spearheaded the use of non-traditional materials from nature in the early '70s, and has produced and exhibited her work internationally.
Fred Tomaselli’s mosaics and collages compose patterns and images that suggest ancient global influences. His materials, however, are products of modern consumption, addiction, bodily abuse, and pleasure: pills, nicotine patches, bandages, and the like. The surfaces are coated with a lacquered veneer, making these mundane sources of highs or healing gleam. Interview by James Rondeau. A historical interview originally recorded in 1999 and re-edited in 2007.