Art Matters Now — 12 Writers on 20 Years of Art

Two images side by side, overlaid with a bright red. The one on the left shows a couple looking up at a utility pole; the one on the right shows two adults standing in a shallow bank, each carrying an adult in their arms, with a canoe full of people behind them.
STORM 1 by Gaye Chan, 2002–2006, chromogenic prints. Image courtesy of the artist.

Creative Capital has always focused on helping artists make their most ambitious work a reality, providing support and resources for realizing their creative visions and achieving long-term success, however each artist defines it. That means that since Creative Capital was founded in 1999, we have advocated for two decades’ worth of artistic work with a fierce commitment to freedom of expression. It’s been no small feat—through the Creative Capital Award, we have given over $48 million dedicated to 596 projects by 741 artists across the country.

With that in mind, Creative Capital has invited 12 arts writers to explore key moments in the history of the Creative Capital Award in celebration of our 20th anniversary. The essays include a variety of voices and subjects, looking at many of the projects we have supported that proved groundbreaking and prescient, reflecting and responding to a world in a constant state of flux. Creative Capital is pleased to partner with Los Angeles Review of Books who will publish these essays once a month.


Leah Gilliam's multimedia project, AGENDA FOR A LANDSCAPEJohanna Fateman on the Founding of Creative Capital
Johanna Fateman, writer and awardee, begins with a look at the year 2000, the significance of the launch of Creative Capital, what it meant for avant-garde artists who were making “unmarketable” work in a country that was hesitant to support them.

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a black and white image of an incarcerated individual, from Dread Scott's project LOCKDOWNEunsong Kim on the Colonial Inheritance of 2001
Eunsong Kim writes about 2001 awardees, Dread Scott and Gaye Chan—two artists who sought to redefine how we see the dispossessed, including incarcerated individuals and Hawai’i indigenous peoples. These are narratives we recognize today, but, as Kim writes, were new in 2001 when the media was more concerned with the war on terror.

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Yxta Maya Murray on Creative Capital Projects After September 11
Murray pinpoints shifts in the works of Creative Capital Awardees Sawad Brooks, Suzanne Lacy, Tana Hargest, and Nick Cave: projects started before 9/11 tended to reveal “a fascination with a speculative speculative tomorrowland,” while future ones “forecasted a more difficult future.”

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Pablo Helguera's The School of Unrest in AlaskaGreg Allen Considers Three Progressive Works Funded By Creative Capital in 2005
Natalia Almada, Liz Cohen, and Pablo Helguera’s projects, though quite different from each other and unrelated, were all as ambitious as they were improbable—ignoring tidy distinctions of artistic mediums.

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Brian Knep’s Healing Pool at the Milwaukee Art MuseumOrit Gat on 2006 and the Rise of YouTube
Gat examines Google’s acquisition of Youtube in 2006 and how the turn to a data-driven advertising economy has led to the disinformation and radicalization of today, citing the work of 2006 Creative Capital Awardees in data and technology.

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Tara-MateikGreg Youmans on Pathbreaking Trans Art of 2008
Greg Youmans pays homage to the work of two artists who brought attention to the experiences of trans and non-binary people in the waning months of the George W. Bush era, and in so doing reminds us that the fight for gender inclusion is ongoing.

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