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New Oral History Project Looks at the State of the Art World in 2020

The year 2020 presented us with many challenges, but the art world continued to show its resilience during the global pandemic. Artists around the nation have been inspired to document this moment in history in a variety of media.

The Smithsonian Archives of American Art recently announced its Pandemic Oral History Project that features interviews with some of today's leading artists, teachers, curators, and art administrators. The archive includes recordings and transcripts of eighty five interviews that are each approximately 25 minutes in length, providing "a firsthand account of and urgent insights into the narrator's triumphs and tragedies in the summer of 2020."

Videos and transcripts from this oral history project will be released in batches over the next several months. Here are a few highlights from the fourteen recently released interviews:

Interview with Mark Bradford

Mark Bradford (b. 1961) is a conceptual artist working in multiple mediums in Los Angeles, California. This interview was conducted on August 14, 2020 by Nyssa Chow, for the Archives of American Art's Pandemic Oral History Project at Bradford's home in Los Angeles, California.

Interview with Sheila Hicks

Sheila Hicks (b. 1934) is a fiber artist and arts educator in Paris, France. This interview was conducted July 21, 2020 by Ben Gillespie, at Hicks's home in Paris, France for the Archives of American Art's Pandemic Oral History Project.

Interview with Jessie Benton

Jessie Benton (b. 1939) is the daughter of painter Thomas Hart Benton. This interview was conducted August 10, 2020 by Josh T. Franco, for the Archives of American Art's Pandemic Oral History Project, at Benton's home in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.


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