State of the Art


State of the Art

After an exhilarating national journey of artistic discovery, 100 under-recognized American artists were selected for one unforgettable exhibition. “State of the Art," a one-hour documentary, captures the personal stories of seven diverse artists from Crystal Bridges’ groundbreaking exhibit who are redefining the American aesthetic.

AIRED: April 26, 2019 | 0:55:17


(birds chirping)

Okay, there we go.

I love this one.

It goes down here.

You could put Esterly on this wall.

DON: Yep.

CHAD: Sticky.

DON BACIGALUPI: Among the conventional wisdoms

about contemporary art,

there is a, a notion

that it's only being made in New York and L.A.

and maybe a couple of other major urban centers.

But art is being made everywhere.

It always has been.

There are vibrant communities across this country

that give rise to incredible works of art,

some of which go completely unseen

by the art world.

DON: Where are we, Chad?

CHAD: Carthage, Mississippi. DON: Mississippi.

DON: Chad, where are you?

- Ah, as best I can tell, we're in Baltimore.

DON: Look how colorful everything is.

CHAD: We went off the map entirely.

And we did that week to week, back to back, month to month,

for ten months to bring contemporary art to life again.

Looks at this!

What I'm here for is to hear from you

what your perspective is

on your work. - Okay.

(crowd cheering on speakers)

We'd knock at a door, hoping it was the right door,

never knowing what we were to expect.

I mean, literally, it was like Mystery Date.


- Thanks. - Look at this, huh?

CHAD: Our idea was to go out on the road,

to meet with a thousand contemporary artists,

and to go into all of the communities

that make the United States what it is.

And what we found was amazing.

(bow thuds, arrow hits target)

(bow thuds, arrow hits target)

DON: We were so far

from the beaten path of the art world.

We were almost never in major urban centers

where you expect artists to work.

We were, in contrasting fashion, in places

where most people would think art is not being made,

but in fact it is.

(parking brake engages, car engine stops)

CHAD: Is this what you would call your studio?

PETER OAKLEY: Such as it is, yeah.

My main project right now.

That's my model. CHAD: Uh-huh.

PETER: It's a diesel engine.

I had been working on it upside down right here.

It was flipped over in the dirt. CHAD: Mm-hmm.

And I was cutting flat planes

on the bottom of this boulder, and so this circle here

is going to be the oil cap. CHAD: Mm-hmm.

- Sits on the top. - Yeah.

PETER: And this was state of the art.

This is my little...

you can see the progress so far.

CHAD: That is remarkable.

(scraping sounds)

(scraping continues)

So there's this ongoing series.

Hopefully this will be the last one,

these Styrofoam takeout boxes in marble.

The thing is, the form is pretty nice to look at.

And, um, so what I'm trying to do with it

is kind of what I try to do with everything.

There's enough to think about

that you get lost in the process thinking about it,

and the next thing you know, you find yourself, like,

staring at a Styrofoam takeout box

as a visual experience.

And, for me, that's what I'm going for.

So the thing I like about the, you know, the stack,

these things are kind of, you know,

they're kind of generic.

They stack correctly like that.

But the way people interact with these things

is often not the way they were intended to be interacted with.

And a lot of times you see them stacked wrong,

like in the back of the house in restaurants and stuff.

So, um, that human interaction with this generic object

gives it this interesting composition.

Like, it, it starts to be something that it never was.

You know, even though I use some power tools

when I'm roughing the sculptures out,

I still work by hand, and I work by myself.

I don't use, I don't even use studio assistants.

A lot of the tools are real specialized.

These are the real, real sculpture tools.

But this is a Sawzall blade in a regular handle.

It's... carbide's designed for cutting cast iron,

but it works pretty well on stone.

So I live in this, I live in this small town here,

and there's not a sculpture supply house, like, anywhere,

so I just get stuff from the building supply.

These are just regular files from there.

(eggs sizzling, spatula scraping)

(engine starting, squealing)

It's fine.

Power windows.


There's an unknown number of miles on it.

The odometer quit working about ten years ago at 204,000.

In there.

(engine puttering)

They were one of the last cars that were manufactured

without computers in them.

So, I mean, this car,

you could literally, like, take the battery out of it right now

and chuck it in a ditch,

and it would still run,

like, with no electricity at all.

Not only does this car function without computers,

but it was designed and built without computers.

(water flowing)

It gets beautiful here and everything,

but mainly it's cheap.

I can work here

and not have to worry about money, you know?

I'll be in my studio, not talking to any other people

for maybe a couple of weeks.

There's no distractions at all.

Let's see if she can make it.

I think she's going to do it.


(claps): Good girl, Sonya.


Good girl, Sonya.

Oh, no; oh, no.

I should go rescue her.

She's going to go down the waterfall.

She can make it, though, she'll be all right.

Good girl, Sonya.

Good girl, Sonya, good girl, Sonya.

Good girl, Sonya.


She's a really good swimmer,

but that was, that was crazy, wasn't it?

(tool buzzing)

(machinery clanking, squeaking)

(clanking and squeaking continues)

SUSIE LEE: Unlike every other state

that was really suffering from the 2008 recession,

North Dakota was experiencing a boom because of fracking.

And this was my hometown from eight years to 18,

and I had been away for about 20 years.

So these small towns that I remember

from, like, speech and debate tournaments

suddenly were overrun 24-seven

with oil trucks and tankers nonstop.

(machinery humming)

I was curious, especially,

about the people who had lost everything in the recession

and left to start their lives over again.

So we would create video portraits,

and all I asked them to do was just to sit for a moment.

This guy in particular, his name is Johnny,

and he's sort of this complicated guy,

where you'll look at him, and you're like,

"Is he challenging me?

"Is he smirking?

I don't really know."

But what I hope you can do when you see them is

that you'll get a sense of, like, not only who they are,

but you'll be like, "Wait a second.

I kind of know somebody like that."

And, for me, the idea was to try and draw the audience

into their space.

When the exhibition went up,

I invited all of the people that I had spoken to,

and none of them could come.

And if you think about it,

what are the typical museum hours?

It's 11:00 to 5:00, Tuesday through Saturday.

This was not accessible to them.

Art needs to be accessible

to not only the elite, the one percent,

but to a much wider audience.


(birds squawking faintly)

Who is that?

(baby gurgling, Susie laughing)

My parents decided to move to North Dakota

when I was eight,

and I wanted to have Princess Diana hair.

And, I was so confused, because I didn't understand

why my hair didn't look like her hair,

and it didn't occur to me, and no one ever said anything

like, "Well, Asian hair actually intrinsically

is, like, a different quality than British hair."



This was from the local newspaper,

because I was the youngest female black belt, um,

in the state at the time.

There weren't such things as kids' classes,

and so we were just held to a standard that was, like,

"Well, you can do absolutely what any guy can do."

But not only that, you know,

"Physically, you need to be able to compete with them

"and to be able to fight them

and show a certain kind of courage."

But it also meant that we didn't fear men.

So actually this picture is from the U.S. National Championships.

Let's see, somebody one time kicked me

and dislocated my shoulder.

Um, I got punched in the nose,

and, like, blood was pouring out.

And I think that's part of the reason

why, like, when I went into the fracking fields,

it never occurred to me that

as a woman, I might not want to do this

or that I would feel unsafe about it.

So I think in that way, it affected the kind of ways

that I project myself into the world.

When you get knocked down,

which obviously you do as a creative person, um,

you always have to get up, and that, you know,

no one else is going to necessarily help you get up,

so, you know, you, you do it.


He's getting more and more comfortable with his life.

Or lazy, I'm not sure which.


There's something right now going on

that's, like, something in tune.

I feel like we all need to take a break or something.


Whoo, okay, see?

Unintentionally matchy-matchy.

(keys jingling) Come on.

Asa, let's go.

(clicks tongue) Come on.

Wait, did I bring a diaper bag?

No. (laughs)

So, now we have a clock, because at some point,

she's going to have an explosion,

and we're going to have to go back.

(baby gurgling)

So, that's... you'll, you'll be the mime.

Let's say you're here, just to at least...

And then... pretend this is underneath.

Right. - Mm-hmm.

- So, however this starts, begin, wherever,

you're, duh-duh-duh, right?

And then at some point, he gets into the bed.

- Mm-hmm. - Right.

(baby gurgling)

(voiceover): I have this new project

where we're working with a mime

to interpret these Chinese poems.

And this isn't, like, the kind of Barney stuff

or, like, super-educational things

that we see in the U.S.

This was actually a lot of contemporary artworks

that two-year-olds and three-year-olds

could actually really understand.

(whispering): Touch it, touch it.

Touch it, see.

This child will change the way that I make work,

and this child will change the way that I look at the world.

When you're feeding her, or when you're looking at her,

is there something about those moments

that actually inspire a certain kind of creativity?

I think yes, there absolutely is.

(whispering): Okay.

Okay, all right.

I think we're done. - Yeah.

(train horn blaring)

DON: One of the themes in "State of the Art" was

if we could get out and see truly

where artists are making their work,

we would have a much broader, a much more accurate picture

of what's actually happening in contemporary art.

So we felt it was important

to bypass the usual structures of the art world

and go everywhere.

CHAD: The process of being on the road was exhilarating--

the Wichitas and the Pittsburghs and the Cincinnatis

and the texture of New Orleans.

(jazz parade band playing)

(music continues, crowd cheering)

CHAD: Carl Joe is a musician himself.

So he plays jazz,

he composes music,

and he's also looking to the texture of New Orleans

as inspiration for his work.

(drill whirring)



There's a boat going. MAN: We're on.

Art for poor people is not accessible.

So when you have public art, you can engage

from the poorest, youngest, to the oldest.

I mean, it's like everybody's involved.

And, you know, for that reason,

I think it's extremely important.

I look at that water, and I see those concentric circles,

and I think about my work.

(chuckles): You know?

Um, because of... I think it's beautiful.

I love the way water looks and reacts

to, um, any kind of tension, you know?

I guess I'm really interested in trying to tell the stories

of, of average, everyday Americans.

Um... working,

and, uh... working, making a living,

trying to survive.

And it's important to me

that people who might not go to museums and galleries

actually have some kind of connection to the work.

That's important to me.

(chuckling): Oh, that's magnificent.

(studio audience laughing)

CARL JOE: So, "The Gift,"

which was a piece in the exhibition,

I took a small snippet from an old TV show

called "Sanford and Son."

Grady, he bought a painting

of a naked black woman on velvet canvas.

They absolutely hated the painting.

What do you think, huh?

Huh? - Well, uh...

But because they loved him,

they kept that painting up, right?

And it appealed to me,

because it was tapping into all the anxieties

that I had about my work

at the time.

I found out-- and this is through

talking to a lot of other African American artists--

that there is a certain level of anxiety

about actually making art.

That's why that clip is used,

because it opens up all of those questions

as to who's judging who's right and who's wrong, um,

you know with something like art.

It's tasteless.

It's the worst combination of colors I've ever seen.

- You should be used to that.

(studio audience laughing)

DON: I don't think there's any precedent

for the scale of what we did.

But while we were in New Orleans,

and I had a bit of a meltdown when I realized

we weren't going to be able to get everywhere.

Time was short.

We were running out of time.

There were some parts of the country

we simply weren't going to have time to get to.

And it was a bit of a panic moment for me

when I realized we weren't going to accomplish

what I had visualized,

which was literally going everywhere.

LINDA: Here she comes.

MATTHEW: Don't forget to steer.

- Don't, yeah, definitely. - Put your feet on the pedals.

- Feet on the pedals, there you go.

Don't forget to steer.

Go, go, go. - Whoa!

Steer towards... no, to your left,

to your left.

(mock scream, chuckling)

UNA: No.

- No? - No?


LINDA: Yeah.

There we go, whee!

Are you going to ring your bell?

(bell ringing, child babbling)

There you go.

(bicycle bell ringing)

I think I'll just wipe it down and then put black on it.

It turns, it turns out like this.

Because it... it doesn't really quite cover up that red clay,

but I think if I can get it on there evenly...

it just turns shiny.

- That's over that clay. - Yeah.

- Whoa.

Try it, it's kind of wild. LINDA: Okay.

MATTHEW: Yeah, give it a shot.

I think that black's going to be great.

- Yeah, I think it's going to work.

(people chattering, pedestal scraping)

LINDA: Do not grab it by a rock.

MAN: Yeah, one, two, three.

Here? LINDA: I got it.

MAN: Okay.

Tell me when. Good, here?

Coming down? LINDA: Down.

Slow, you've got an inch.

There you go.

MAN: All right. - Cool.

MAN: A finger fell? - Yeah.

MATTHEW: Yeah, but that... that was in travel.

LINDA: Smooth.

I'll just get it right in there, yup.

We're good. MAN: Oh, there it is.

LINDA: Oh, this is so exciting.

Like, seeing all of this being put together.

(stapler firing)

This is a really different surface for me,

so I go through waves of not liking it,

and liking it.

I don't really know yet.

I like this.

I'm good with this.

LINDA: Mindy is my gallerist.

MATTHEW: You want to try one more time?

LINDA: And my husband, Matthew McConnell,

who I trust so much.

They're just arranging work for me

while I try to get this piece set up.

This piece is, like, very specifically

how do I understand, um, time within my lifespan

and beyond and before.

It's scary putting something, like, so personal out

into the world.

My family in Vietnam still live on this same plot of land

that my mother grew up on.

You know, their neighborhood would get attacked,

and they would, they would actually just crawl

under their crawlspace under their house

and just continue to live.

I mean, it's just so scary.

So scary to think about that.

So I don't know much about my mom's story.

It may be a sensitive subject for her to talk about.

She came here during the Vietnam War on a freedom flight.

A few years later after that, you know, she met my father.

I don't know his background

previous to his life in the United States.

He came from Mexico.

He came in his early 20s.

He picked oranges

for pretty much most of my childhood.

My parents didn't tell me a lot

about their family, their cultures,

it was all about becoming an American

and living this American life.

I didn't have a lot of cultural identity.

And it's strange to think that I had a difficult time,

you know, kind of trying to be an American,

because I was born in America.

(Una and Linda giggling)

Una, if you mix blue and yellow, you get, what color?


(voiceover): With Una,

I requested that my mother speak Vietnamese to her.

This new body of work with the rugs and the feet

and trying to understand my identity

probably has to do a lot

with being able to give my daughter this information

of who we are.

(Una babbling)

MATTHEW: Mm-hmm.

LINDA: We're hoping that she has more of an understanding

of what our roots are.

I want her to be proud of, of who she is.

(muted): So that has, like, a clear glaze

and then a gold luster on top of it.

I'm still trying to understand what I'm trying to say

with this new body of work and this exploration

of what it means to be Mexican and Vietnamese,

which maybe I don't know if I'll ever understand.


(person imitating goat bleating)

(bleating continues)

All the Navajos will laugh at me.

They get a lot of food.

Way too much food.

They're fat, because Navajos raise their sheep for...

and their goats for... not as pets like that.

Like I treat them like a dog.


This one here is missing a leg.

The boy that sold us them, when we asked him how much,

he said, "Well, $40 on this one."

And he said, "How about $30 on this one?"

(chuckling): So we got ten dollars off.

(bucket clanging)

Yeah, my beautiful chickens, gone.

The bobcat came, and he killed them all,

didn't eat them

and then left them in a big pile.

Babies that were born naturally,

not born in an incubator.

We're going to walk through the snow

and go over to the garden.

Unusual amount of snow.

Underneath here.

Yeah, the economic crash in the mid-2000s,

as artists, we were dependent upon people's disposable income,

and when I realized that that disposable income

was not happening for those of us who make the art

and are reliant upon it, um,

that was one of the major impulses

for growing this garden.

Having the chickens on hand

and being a little more self-sufficient

and less reliant upon the market economy.

And, uh, that's what this was all a part of.

So far so good.

Look at it, it's snow time

and we still got carrots in this garden.

I'll tell you this, I'm a Westerner in the heart,

'cause this doing-for-yourself thing,

this is the west all the way.

This is my Wyoming upbringing right here.

All the Shoshone ladies I knew, they went hunting,

killed their own animals.

Oh, yeah, I'm not going to get a fire out of this.

Ooh, maybe, here's some dry ones.



When I was little, my mother,

this is how she made her living, was selling beadwork.

When we were little kids,

I have a very fond memory of being in her closet.

She had all of her necklaces hanging on one wall,

her beaded necklaces.

My sister and I would go into the closet--

she had all her moccasins stacked in there--

and we would turn off the light,

and we would smell the smell of the smoked hide,

and we would feel these cold beads.

This is the cradle board that I came home in as a baby.

It's the cradle board my mother and father had made for me.

So I was brought home encrusted in beads.

Once one is made then it becomes a part of your family's legacy.

So when I see them in a museum or something like that,

it always makes me a little bit sad,

because I realize someone's family

lost their, their heirlooms.

(beads rattling, plastic crinkling)

Beads were brought over here into the United States,

and they were given as trade objects, right?


and these same beads from this same Preciosa manufacturer

get traded all over the planet.

So I just feel like it's, it's something that...

it was taken by women,

and it was used as a brand-new medium

to create a whole new language of art.

And it's here,

and it came out of that colonial stomping across the planet.

So these objects may have been used to steal our land,

but in our hands, it became something more.

This is my mother, Jeri Ah-be-hill,

and myself as a baby.

My mother had a trading post for over 30 years.

That's basically where I grew up,

was inside that trading post.

Yeah, this is, like, pictures of inside of her store.

Here's my mother in a Shoshone dress.

Only $1,600 for that buckskin dress.

(laughing, snorts)


Oh, here I am in the shop with the mannequin.

And that was her office back here.

So, in the store I preferred being in the office

than out with the customers,

and doing paperwork, office work,

and that kind of thing.

My mother in this big collection of clothing that she had,

she would do style shows or fashion shows she called them,

for these non-Native people,

these big white audiences.

But it was her own personal collection.

It was all women's clothing,

and it was done on purpose,

because she saw in the old museums

that most of what was focused on was men's stuff.

And so she created a collection

to teach non-Native people about the importance of Native women.

She's teaching all these white people here

their own history.

Their own American history they didn't know nothing about.

Beadwork itself,

because it's been defined as a female art form,

I have been fighting that fight my entire career,

the tension between fine art and craft.

Being included in "State of the Art"

legitimized my medium.

Myself, as an artist, I am happy for that.

I am honored by that.

But I am even more grateful

that the medium itself was included

in the exhibition.

JUSTIN FAVELA: Let's set up the canopy

on the edge, and that's where the grilling will be.

And then we'll have a, two tables down here,

and then one table up here. WOMAN: Okay.

I'll be the table that wants to stay up here.

- And we look...

Options, you've got options.

MAN 2: Oh, wow, nice. JUSTIN: See.

MAN 2: I like it. JUSTIN: See, VIP.

MAN 2: You want to set up right here?

JUSTIN: Drinks on me. MAN 2: All right.

(explosions, cheers)

MAN: Hang on, hang on, hang on.

Hey, you pull, you pull.

One, two, three.

(voiceover): I'm not a very violent person,

so when I was a kid, any time it was piñata time

at a birthday party, I would hide.

So I've always had that relationship with piñatas,

like, on a very personal level, I hated piñatas.

(crowd cheering, chanting)

It's this object that we use to celebrate things,

at the same time, you know, we destroy it.

I mean, that was the first piñata I ever made

when I was in school.

And then I said, "That's it.

I'm not going to make any more piñatas."

Like, "I don't want to be the piñata guy," you know?

It's so easy.

It's so cheap.

And what am I doing?

I'm still making piñatas.

This is it, this is how I'm going to do it.

One big knot.

I'm just going to tie it like a shoe.

It's the only knot I know. MAN: Right.


♪ Solid as a rock.

This is great.

(man speaking unintelligibly)


This work was a tribute to Selena,

and I'm hoping to reuse all these car parts,

like in a real chop shop,

and make other works out of them.

There's a Selena song about a car that breaks down.

(man laughing)

(singing in Spanish)




I, I think the show's done.

MAN: Now it's a hatchback.

- Boom. - Oh, look, that's a hearse.

JUSTIN: Both sides of my family ended up in Las Vegas,

'cause of work opportunities.

My grandpa on my dad's side was a farmer

for a while in California,

and eventually he got a gig at the La Concha Motel here,


I mean, a union job with benefits.

Especially for Latinos,

it doesn't get any better than that.

This is the pork belly.

I'm very excited about this, you guys.

Okay, video.

Can I get it off the plate?

I've been really thinking about my identity

as a Mexican-American.

Like, do I really like tacos,

or, or am I just supposed to really like tacos?

Yes, I am Mexican, I make piñatas,

and I love tacos.

In my artwork, I feel like I take that,

and I just go with it and exploit the hell out of it.

The low rider represents Latinos perfectly,

because the car is this American symbol for progress.

For a Chicano to take that symbol,

you know, bring it back to life, make it their own, um,

and really tell their story with it,

I think that's...

that's really, that's really cool,

really important.

TEACHER: Can everyone see from where you're sitting?

KIDS: Yes.

TEACHER: So Vanessa German lives in Pittsburgh,

and she created these power figures--

they're like dolls--

out of different objects.

Share with us some things that you see

or some things that you think.

They all have weapons. TEACHER: Okay.

So why do you think that

the artist has included weapons on them?

- 'Cause she lives in a town that is violent.

CHAD: When we visited Pittsburgh,

parts of the city have really, you know, rallied and revived

in this sort of post-industrial moment.

Homewood is not one of those places.


And do you need something to dry the brushes off a little bit?

CHILD 1: Yeah.

CHILD 2: No.

DON: As we were driving up,

we saw one house was brightly colored

and signs in the yard that said things like,

"Stop Shooting, We Love You."

And we thought, "That's got to be the artist's house.

Uh, they came to the house,

and one of them had a video camera,

and one of them had a recorder.

And they were, like, "Well, we want to talk about your work.

And I said, "What work?

"I... do you want me to perform for you?

Or do you want to see sculpture work?"

They were, like, "You perform?"

And I said, "Yeah."

(singing in African language)

She begins this spoken-word performance

of this piece called,

"If My Hands Were Anything Other Than Hands,"

that moved me to tears.

If my hands were anything other than hands,

they would be two shooting stars

galloping light across the galaxy.

They would be a twin fandango of diamond-studded fingerprints

hopscotching a radiant, neon merengue of light

from each folded velvet edge of midnight

into every tidy galaxy of 14-carat suns.

My shooting-star hands would reach and leap and turn

the faces of every burning celestial pedestrian star

raised and gazing, bright-eyed, amazed, and awestruck

as my shooting-star hands went by in a flurry of pirouettes,

spitting sparks and spilling light

like each finger is a silver Bic flip lighter,

flicking flames of hope into the open faces

of those twinkling, pale, and incandescent sisters

whose tears glisten and litter the blistering avenue

like sequins.

Yeah, one of the reasons

why I started to make art on my front porch

is 'cause the ceiling is so low down here.

DON: How long have you been in Pittsburgh?

- 12 years. - Oh.

- Watch yourself, please.

Just, some steps are smaller. - Mm-hmm.

- So I take them apart,

and so these are metal stakes go in there,

and they go down into there.

I'll reconfigure the proportions,

and then I'll wrap the whole doll like a mummy.

Then it becomes this hard form.

And so, this is a piece I did

after, uh, Trayvon Martin was murdered.

And there was this period of time

where people were, like, "Well, he had a hoodie on.

"And, you know, he was walking down the street,

and he should have known."

And I was, like, "Wait.

"Are you trying to say that he deserved this?

And that he asked for his death?"

And there was this period of time where I just felt crazy,

because it was, like, people are on all these news shows

that were trying to sculpt this idea,

through him smoking weed at school,

through all of... through these little incidences

that he... was murderable.

This is...

A memorial that we made for victims

and people who have witnessed violent crime.

This neighborhood is, like, really proof

of, you know, the way that people are affected

by the ghosts

of all these young men and these young women

who have been killed.

So there's the bed on the top of the head

that's carrying these white figurines.

And I remember somebody said, you know,

"People aren't going to listen to you if you're always angry."

They think that it is work that exploits old ethnic notions

and racial stereotypes.

And I laugh, because, like, racism is white supremacy.

If I was a white supremacist,

my work would look totally different.

But I'm not starting from the idea

that blackness is bad or is ugly.

(boy shouting)

("Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift playing on speakers)

♪ And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, baby ♪

♪ I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake ♪

♪ Shake it off, shake it off

♪ Players gonna play, play, play... ♪

CHAD: She has transformed that house

into what's essentially a community center.

A place for children to come and immerse themselves

in the creative power of art.

♪ Shake it off, shake it off

♪ Shake it off, shake it off.

VANESSA: See, they're drying?

This is the first one you did.

Look at this one, see?

- It's dry? - Ooh, it's dry.

- Is that mine? - It's so pretty.

CHILD: Is that mine? VANESSA: Yeah.

- Can I... - Look at that one.

(children talking in background)

VANESSA: If you mix yellow and red, you get orange.

CHILD: So what if I mix yellow in it now?

What color will it... - See what happens.

You just have to add a little bit more.

CHILD: All right, in the middle,

we're going to say, "We Love You," but not...

RA-RA: In the middle? No, we going to say,

"Please Stop Shooting. We Love You."


(crying): Oh, my hand.

VANESSA: What's wrong?

CHILD: Ra-Ra's scared again.

VANESSA: Come here, buddy.

RA-RA: At nighttime,

every time I go to the bathroom,

I always hear gunshots,

and I be running and telling my mom.

- I know. - And I be hiding.

I be scared. - I know.

VANESSA: Two people were murdered

outside of the house last year,

which, unfortunately, Ra-Ra saw.

My head will rustle on the pillow at night,

and I think I'm hearing gunshots.

I'm... I've seen the same things he's seen,

and I am surprised the way that it comes back.

And I'm embarrassed by it,

because nobody's talking about it.

Everybody is, like...

(voice breaking): "You should be so normal."

So it's like this little place

where you feel, like, a little humiliated,

because you're still affected by something

that so many people act like they're not affected by.

It's so, like, it's so weird.

It's more than any of us should have to deal with.

Do you tell your momma when you get scared?

RA-RA: Um, yeah.


- Yeah.

It's good to have somebody to talk to

when you're scared.

It's about carrying trauma in your body.

And when I work, a lot of the times,

I'm trying to work something out of my body.

Like, give voice to, like, this grief,

and to the trauma that you carry with you

so that my body can continue on.

(drill whirring)

(drill stops)

(hoist whirring)

(man talking indistinctly)

PHOTOGRAPHER: Everyone look super-smart.

WOMAN: I'm trying, I'm next to you.

PETER (laughs): What do smart people look like?

What do cultured people do with their hands?

PHOTOGRAPHER: That's great.

PETER: I'm just getting more and more nervous the whole time.

- Yeah, getting worse.

(people talking in background)

Excuse me.

I'm wondering if there's anything I needed to fix.

Not that I didn't trust them in terms of, like, breaking it,

but, like, looking at something that you've already let go,

you're, like, "Oh, it's not exactly done,

but the deadline came."

But I think it stands up pretty good,

and I'm, I'm happy about it.

So, and what's the base?

- The base is, uh, it's, uh, it's marble, too.

They call it a blue marble.

And I'm pretty sure it's from North Carolina.

Yeah, I worked for Levi's from 1980 to '99, so...

- Uh-huh. - That whole time

of the disappearance of manufacturing in North America,

and we had to change the focus of what we were doing.

We had to change that big battleship

from huge, long production to something more fashionable.

- Uh-huh. - And quicker response,

to change that ship around.

- You did it.

Because it's still... Levi's is still solid now, you know.

Peter Oakley is my name. - Oh, Ken Sirlin.

Welcome, Peter. - Hi, Ken.

We're going to meet in the atrium in five minutes.

- Okay. - And then we'll walk together.

PETER: Cool. WOMAN: Okay.

LISA: So please join me in welcoming Chad Alligood.

(audience applauds)

Thank you, Lisa.

"State of the Art" was the great journey of my life.

In the words of one of the featured artists in this show,

Vanessa German,

"I believe in the power of art."

When you walk into the gallery tonight,

I hope you find something that resonates deeply

and beautifully with you.

Something that compels you to come closer,

to investigate your place in the world.

And I think that this is one of the most critical,

pressing issues of our time,

to inspire empathy in one another.

To recognize that things are different

depending on who you are.

There's great power in that.

And there's great power in this.

(audience applauds)

JUSTIN: "State of the Art," they curated this exhibition

of work that would probably have never been seen.

CARL JOE: I don't think everybody's story

is being told accurately in the whole history of art.

So taking a survey of American art,

I think, is actually pretty, pretty brilliant.


I love myself more

when I'm making art than any other time.

Like, I, I am clear.

I understand why I'm alive.

Everything makes sense here.

This has the power to protect your imagination.

This is the beginning point-- this is not the end.

You know, this project will continue.

CHAD: I hope

we've inspired people to look at the world around them.

There are artists everywhere.

All you have to do is look.


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