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TIME Magazine: Shaping the Next Generation of Artists

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Thursday February 07, 2019

From Time Magazine

12 Leaders Who Are Shaping the Next Generation of Artists
By: Abigail Abrams, Wilder Davies, Mahita Gajanan, Rachel E. Greenspan, Cady Lang

When we consume art-get swept up in a film, meander through a museum, parse the lines of a poem-we tend to direct our praise or criticism toward the artist who created the work. But behind every artist, there is almost always a person, and sometimes many more than one, who believed in their vision and gave them an opportunity to share their work with the world.

It may be a gallerist who took a chance on a painter whose work they knew would upend the norms of the art world and prove a tough sell to buyers. It may be a publisher who releases into the world books with the power to reframe how we think about our common history, or an editor who breathes new life into the work of a German playwright by having it translated for the first time for English-speaking readers. It may be an executive who deems a television series undeniably binge-worthy.

The art that reaches our eyes and ears does not find its way there by accident. Here, TIME highlights the work of 12 champions of culture who are creating platforms-be they museum walls or magazine pages or literal stages-for the artists who are opening our minds and changing our world today.

Jason Moran and Q-Tip
Artistic director of jazz and artistic director of hip-hop at the Kennedy Center

In the four years since Jason Moran became the artistic director of jazz at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, he’s built a skate park on its steps, paired stand-up comedy with abstract jazz performances and facilitated live painting at concerts. In short, he’s shown one of the nation’s most prominent cultural institutions what a living, breathing American art form can look like in real time.

‘Part of my role as a curator is to make sure the sensibilities are diverse enough, that we aren’t just presenting one thing,’ says the pianist and composer, a 2010 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship ‘genius’ grant. ‘It’s about informing the institution that there have been major gaps, things that you could frankly say they have ignored in the past.’

Moran’s push to recognize diverse voices in jazz is paralleled by the efforts of Q-Tip, A Tribe Called Quest’s philosophical MC and producer, who was named the center’s inaugural artistic director of hip-hop culture in 2016.

The rapper, a champion of socially conscious hip-hop, regards his role as not only a curator but also a historian. ‘We take a view of the landscape in not only hip-hop culture, but what’s happening socially and nationally,’ he says. His innovations so far include the formation of a Hip Hop Culture Council, which helps to create projects that celebrate the past, present and future of the art form. The Council relies on the insights of industry notables like Questlove, the drummer and bandleader of The Roots, and hip-hop founding father Fab 5 Freddy.

But he’s most excited about an award, still in the works, that will be bestowed upon hip-hop artists, akin to the center’s prestigious annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. The honor feels especially poignant considering that for a long time, the genre was not recognized as an elevated art form-a perception that’s now shifting, in part thanks to Q-Tip’s efforts. ‘It’s all about a consistency and dedication to the culture,’ he says. ‘Through those things, there’s a truth in what you do.’

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