Yxta Maya Murray on Creative Capital Projects After September 11

Considering that so much that happened during the turn of the century still affects us, the year 2002 doesn’t seem so long ago. Creative Capital strives to be an anchor for artists during times of turbulence and uncertainty, so they can make work that leads us forward. In the most recent essay exploring key moments in the history of Creative Capital, Yxta Maya Murray examines how 2002 became a difficult turning point in the country’s consciousness—marked by both September 11, and the path to war with Iraq.

Looking back on projects by Creative Capital Awardees such as Sawad Brooks, Suzanne Lacy, Tana Hargest, and Nick Cave, Murray pinpoints a shift in the nature of their work: projects started before 9/11 tended to reveal “a fascination with a speculative speculative tomorrowland,” while future ones “forecasted a more difficult future.”

Read the essay

In 2002, anxieties over the intersection between poverty, life chances, and the environment had not yet become a defining political issue, but Suzanne Lacy’s Beneath Land and Water: A Project for Elkhorn City 2000–2006 looked forward to these concerns. In her five-year social practice action that engaged an Appalachian community in Kentucky, Lacy helped organize a park filled with native plants, a walking trail, a mural that honored the local residents, a website, and the publication of a new Elkhorn tourism brochure. “Ethical action by artists need to be oriented toward the long-term sustainability of the community and its urgent need for economic revitalization and ecosystem repair,” Lacy wrote.

Lacy’s call for “ethical action” by artists seems more necessary today than ever, and her peroration was shared by others in 2002.

Murray’s essay is part of a series of 12 essays by arts writers to explore key moments in the history of the Creative Capital Award in celebration of our 20th anniversary in collaboration with the Los Angeles Review of Books. Read past essays by Eunsong Kim, and Johanna Fateman.

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