W04_Toolkit Questions


What part of society was the artist representing or actively choosing to not represent? Who was on the other side?

It seems that Odili Donald Odita was actively representing African art, specifically textiles and patterns that were and are indigenous to Nigerian culture.

Anni Albers on going back to mentioning Indigenous textiles - how it is not just art but technique which points to technological ways (computing). She also made research trips to Mexico in the 40’s.

Bridget Riley was expressing nature in new ways: in ways that focused on the dynamism of visual forces (breaking it down with colour, line, and texture) instead of the pure (or objective) functional roles of nature.

What groups did this artist choose to be a part of? How does inclusivity and exclusivity factor into their work?

Odili Donald Odita was intentionally choosing to position himself as a part of the tradition of Black abstract painters. Anni Albers very intentionally left her affluent upbringing and entered the Bauhaus’s weaving workshop (the only venue available to her at the time). Throughout her career, she was associated with the Bauhaus at Dessau, Black Mountain College (a learn by doing institution), MOMA, and the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in LA.

After establishing herself as a textile artist, in her sixties she was introduced to lithographs/printmaking and worked exclusively with printmaking from 1963 until her death in 1994. She said, “I found that, in lithography, the image of threads could project a freedom I had never suspected.” (Source)

What kind of political tensions was the artist involved in? What is today's unfolding of this tension?

At the Bauhaus, Anni Albers was limited in what media she could work in. There are many ways this is unfolding today. One way that this tension is unfolding today is acknowledging the historical connection between weaving and computation.

That Albers was “restricted” to textiles demonstrates the explicit “feminization” of this kind of art/art-making and creative process. It was not thought that women could “design” and do “architecture” in the same way (when obviously they could). The not-surprising irony of this is that (I think) the textile “wing” of the Bauhaus was ultimately the most profitable: they could produce and reproduce textiles that people wanted to buy, whereas the Bauhaus itself wasn’t very profitable, and the sale of textiles supported and funded the “men’s work” of the Bauhaus. IE; women relegated to labor that ultimately supports the “real” labor and vision of men, aka the oldest story ever. The unfolding tension of this today, I think, is that now people are (re)discovering the key work of Albers and Bauhaus women, and elevating them to the levels they earned and deserved as compelling artists in their own right.

Bridget Riley created her artwork during WWII. She said “her dad was reported missing” after joining the war. “then we did hear that he was alive and then he came back. “the war was a very personal, at very close quarters indeed in some ways. But also happening miles and miles away.”

Odili Donald Odita as a refugee from a colonized Nigeria is attempting to bring the historical meaning and context of color, pattern, shape and scale in Nigerian context into the very Western Art world. The western domination of understanding our relationship to each other, the earth, our histories and culture is a consistent theme in current thinking

What other questions should we be asking to help us reframe this artist?

What materials were available to them, where did they come from, and how were they acquired? What kind of access did they have to the community? Did they have collaborators and/or mentors? What have they published in written words? What (if any) are the symbols they are using/referencing in their final artwork or process? What are the influences of external culture(s)? What languages do they speak?
What artists, stories, or cultures greatly influenced or motivated them? Who were their teachers or mentors? Did their works follow certain themes or patterns over time? What is or could be the role of an artist in centering (making way/opening spaces) to often left out communities? What is the artist’s relationship to ‘abstraction’ (or non-abstraction). What fears did the artists had at the time of creating their artworks? Who or what are the people/groups that are uncovering these artists and elevating them, and what are their motivations (sources of funding)? How did their position in society influence their access to financial support?

Widen your perspective:

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