The Clark and WGBY Partner to Offer Special Previews of Art:21

For Immediate Release

September 19, 2007

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and WGBY will present free previews of two episodes of Art:21, the acclaimed PBS series that reveals the inspiration, vision, and techniques behind the creative works of some of today’s most accomplished contemporary artists. On October 3, “Protest” will be previewed; on October 10, “Ecology.” These previews represent a unique opportunity to see the series prior to public broadcast; the Clark is the only venue in the region to offer these advance screenings. Following the screenings, audience members can participate in a lively discussion with area curators and art educators. Screenings will take place at the Clark and begin at 7 pm.

Art:21, now in its fourth season, travels across the country and abroad to film seventeen contemporary artists—from painters and sculptors to photographers and filmmakers—in their own spaces and in their own words. The result is a rare opportunity for television viewers to experience first-hand the complex artistic process—from inception to finished product—behind some of today’s most thought-provoking art. The series premieres on PBS October 28 and runs for four consecutive Sundays at 10 pm.

On October 3, episode 2, “Protest,” will be previewed. This episode examines the ways in which four artists use their work to picture war, express outrage, and empathize with the suffering of others. MASS MoCA curator Susan Cross, Williams College assistant professor Ondine Chavoya, and David Breslin, studio assistant to featured artist Jenny Holzer, will join Clark assistant curator of education Danielle Steinmann in engaging the audience in a discussion about the episode. Cross recently organized Spencer Finch: What Time Is It on the Sun? in addition to installations by Erik van Lieshout and Fransje Killaars. Chavoya focuses his research on Latina/o visual culture, the art of California, film theory and independent media, queer theory, and the history of music video. Breslin has been working as a studio assistant to Holzer since 2004 and has been involved in several large installations. He is a PhD candidate in art history at Harvard and is a 2004 graduate of the Williams/Clark Graduate Program in Art History.

Artists profiled in the episode are Jenny Holzer, who maintains a studio in nearby Hoosick Falls, NY, Nancy Spero, An-My Lê, and Alfred Jaar. Holzer is well known for her subversive use of text and poetry, and her focus on cruelty, devastation, consumerist impulses, death, and disease. Whether in an installation of declassified war documents or a large-scale projection of text from provocative essays, she presents words in ways that are overwhelming and exacting, and illustrate the power of language to harm or heal, expose or conceal. Spero, a pioneer of feminist art, creates works that make an unapologetic statement against, and generates discussion about, the abuse of power, privilege, and male dominance. Landscape photographer Lê draws on her childhood experiences as a refugee of the Vietnam War to examine the impact, representation, and meaning of war, as well as the relationship between military activity and the surrounding terrain and our present-day involvement in the Middle East. Jaar’s installations, films, and community-based projects communicate a specific experience to his audience, capturing beauty, but also confronting horror. He identifies the gap between reality and its representation, and his work explores the limits of art to accurately represent tragic world events, from genocide to poverty and famine.

On October 10, episode 3, “Ecology,” will be previewed. This program introduces viewers to four artists whose works pose questions about the relationships between nature and culture. MASS MoCA curator Denise Markonish will join Clark assistant curator of education Danielle Steinmann and Williams assistant professor Ondine Chavoya in engaging the audience in a discussion about the episode. Markonish came to MASS MoCA in July from Artspace New Haven, an artist- and volunteer-run contemporary arts non-profit where she had been the curator since 2002. Her first major MASS MoCA exhibition, Badlands: New Horizons in Landscape, will open in May 2008.

Artists featured in the segment are Ursula von Rydingsvard, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Robert Adams, and Mark Dion. Rydingsvard works primarily with cedar to create large-scale structures. Drawing from her childhood memories of growing up in WWII Polish refugee camps, she creates massive wooden sculptures that often resemble bowls, tools, and walls, and echo the raw, wooden barracks in which her family was forced to live. Manglano-Ovalle’s technologically sophisticated sculptures and video installations employ natural forms such as clouds and icebergs, as well as objects including an umbrella and bullfight ring, as metaphors for understanding difficult social issues, from immigration and gun violence to human cloning. For photographer Robert Adams, inspiration comes from the American West. Through his compelling black-and-white images, he documents scenes and landscapes that are beautiful yet disturbing and strike a balance between sober documentation and somber indignation. Dion collects materials from flea markets and yard sales for his installations and public projects, many of which explore our ideas and assumptions about nature. His works include an elaborate Vivarium in Seattle for which he constructed a greenhouse to protect and keep alive a fallen tree and its surroundings—a tribute to and appreciation for the complexities of our natural system.

The Clark

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (daily in July and August). Admission is free November through May. Admission June 1 through October 31 is $12.50 for adults, free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit


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