What Does Art Do? – A0501-19

Date: Jul 01 - 02, 2019

Skill Level(s): Open to All i

Instructor(s): Helen Molesworth & Simone Leigh

Tuition: $350
Studio Fee: $0
Registration Fee: $0

Time: 9AM – 12:30PM

National Council Members receive a $100 discount (for a tuition of $250).


For centuries, art served the needs of ritual, the church and the state. In the West, this tradition was broken by the rise of the avant-garde and artists who wanted to make “art for art’s sake”. Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, it’s interesting to ask “what does art do?” This program looks closely at a handful of objects and discusses them in formal, art historical, political and personal terms. In doing so we unpack the impact art has on us and what we in turn learn from art. Can we change as a result of our encounters with art? Helen will read from a chapter of her forthcoming book What Does Art Do? focusing specifically on art that deals with love and freedom. She is joined in conversation with artist Simone Leigh, about whom she has written. This dialog between artist and writer explores the different stakes for the artist and the viewer as we engage in the age-old arts of communication and interpretation.


Helen Molesworth was the Chief Curator at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles from 2014—2018. While at MOCA, she organized the large group show “One Day at a Time: Manny Farber and Termite Art” and the critically acclaimed Kerry James Marshall and Anna Maria Maiolino exhibitions. From 2010—2014 she was the Barbara Lee Chief Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Boston, where she assembled exhibitions of artists Steve Locke, Catherine Opie, Josiah McElheny and Amy Sillman, and the group exhibitions “Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933—1957”, “Dance/Draw”, and “This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s”. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Artforum, Art Journal, Documents, and October.



Simone Leigh’s work is informed by her exploration of black female subjectivity and ethnography. Through her investigations of cultures, time periods and geographies, she confronts and examines ideas of the female body, race, beauty and community.

Simone is a recipient of the Hugo Boss Prize, the Foundation for Contemporary Art Grant, Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize, John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, Anonymous Was a Woman Award, Herb Alpert Award for Visual Art, A Blade of Grass Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art, and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Award. Recent projects include: “Trigger: Gender as a Tool and as a Weapon”, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; “Psychic Friends Network”, Tate Exchange, Tate Modern, London; “The Waiting Room”, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; The Free People’s Medical Clinic, commissioned by Creative Time; inHarlem, a public installation presented by The Studio Museum in Harlem at Marcus Garvey Park, New York; and a solo exhibition at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.



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