Glancing through an art history textbook, it is noticeable that important moments in art came out of important moments in history. Those moments challenged the creative minds through times that were confusing, tragic, and hopeful. From seeking utopia through post-war abstraction in New York to the political print reactions in Mexico; from Frida Kahlo’s work of personal conviction to institutional critique during the 1960s; the change of portraiture during the French Revolution to social and political messages through expansive art making methods by artists such as Mel Chin, there is so much to say about times of personal and political growth.
In just a few short months, our worlds have gotten smaller and larger at the same time. We have seen how quickly science is changing, how global our economy is, how important technology is, how home is different for all of us, how politics affect our opportunities, how justice can be corrupt, and the true power of people – all leading up to the United States presidential election. Who we see, how we are represented, how we communicate, and how often we interact with each other has mattered more than ever before. We have changed the way we interact with our families, and what we discuss in private and public. Artists and writers and other creatives have a lot to express, a lot to internalize, and a lot of changes (and art) to make.
While we are all grappling with different ways of viewing the world and each other, artists are making their work. The way we see art and what we see will never be quite the same – but if art history has taught us anything, it will be worth watching. For Number 103: Art in Crisis, we invited writers to address art during crisis, both public and private, through certainty and confusion, for comfort as well as for change. We invite you to read perspectives from Cody Arnall, Chet Bromstein, Scott Carter, Christine Bespalec-Davis, Conner Delgado, Judith Dierkes, Lawrence Jasud, Jacqueline Knirnschild, Yutong Liu, Audrey Molloy, Liz Clayton Scofield, the Watkins MFA faculty collective and Evan Williams.
Lacy Mitcham-Veteto and Katie Maish