In the Studio, Lynn Hershman Leeson

In the Studio
Lynn Hershman Leeson

Lynn Hershman Leeson 
couldn’t give up on being an artist.IMAGE: Production still from the Art in the Twenty-First Century Season 9 episode, “San Francisco Bay Area.” © Art21 Inc., 2018.”I couldn’t give up being an artist because it was the only thing I could do. I tried selling sheets in a bath shop. I tried selling shoes in the bottom of Macy’s basement. I tried doing all kinds of other things. But the thing that I did like breathing was making art. It’s just so much of a part of my handwriting for life, and you can’t give up who you are. It just wasn’t a choice to give up making art.

It didn’t matter that people didn’t show it. It didn’t matter that people rejected it. I thought they were wrong. They were, and time bore that out. The works shown in my retrospective at the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Germany had been in boxes for 50 years because nobody would show them. The works were a new language that nobody knew at the time. It threatened the history that people were aware of, and they couldn’t give a name to it, so it was rejected. 

I never gave up because if you do, you become an employee of somebody else’s view of what’s appropriate. “— Lynn Hershman LeesonRead the InterviewThis interview was conducted by Christine Turner in December 2017 for the “San Francisco Bay Area” episode of the Art21 television series Art in the Twenty-First Century, and edited by Jurrell Lewis in November of 2023. All photography courtesy of Art21.

Teaching with Contemporary Art
Artist as Archivist

By Liz DenneauIMAGE: Courtesy of the Liz Denneau.”When most of my students come to me, their understanding of art has been formed to fit a homogenized construct of how art manifests in the world. Often, they have yet to learn that art could look like something other than a painting on a traditional canvas or a sculpture carved in marble. My job is to encourage them to view artists through the materials and processes they use and the roles they take on in their practice. One of my favorite roles to introduce my students to is the artist’s role as archivist.”— Liz Denneau

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