“There is nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns.” –Octavia Butler
Our premise is the simple notion of curiosity and exploration through the lens of artistic practice. What insights might we gain from unlikely friendships, cross-pollination, proximity to unresolved issues, and the joy of following what strikes our fancy? This index compiles each contributor and issue for your perusal. What constellations will you map through this practice?
|César Castro||Mi Jarana||7|
|Hyun Jung Jun||On Scent||7|
|Beth Lipman||Sculpting with Light||7|
|Hiromi Takizawa||Sculpting with Light||7|
|Mia Mingus||Building Hand in Hand||6|
|Tasneem Raja||Building Hand in Hand||6|
|Elaine McMillion Sheldon||Follow Your Nose||6|
|Lauren Lee McCarthy||Follow Your Nose||6|
|American Artist||Space for Study||6|
|Shani Peters||Space for Study||6|
|Eve L. Ewing||Don’t Be So Perfect||6|
|Fred Moten||Don’t Be So Perfect||6|
|Danny Clay||Play Around with Sound||6|
|Jin Hi Kim||LIVING TONES with LIVING SOUNDS||5|
|Simone Kearney||Between the Spaces of the Sayable||5|
|Max Guy||A Mnemonic Collage||5|
|luciana achugar||On Pursuing Shamelessness||5|
|Marga Gomez||On Pursuing Shamelessness||5|
|Benjamin Merritt||Falling Apart in Half Time||5|
|Sandy Rodriguez||Where Process Meets Sensorium||4|
|Laura Ortman||Where Process Meets Sensorium||4|
|Tia-Simone Gardner||Change Is a Place: Black Landscapes||4|
|Aimee Lusty||Purple Martins: on the margins of the marsh||4|
|J. Drew Lanham||Nativist Namaste||4|
|Jordan Weber||Hoops and Pollinators||4|
|Renee Gladman||Constellated Responses||3|
|Edie Fake||Where the Words Went||3|
|Ben Gould||Swallow the Lightning Rod||3|
|Molly McCully Brown||Dear Stranger||2|
|Maria Gaspar||Side by Side||2|
|Xochitl Rodriguez||Side by Side||2|
|Aaron McIntosh||Kinship Quilt||2|
|Patty Chang||Productive Tension||2|
|Mother Cyborg||The Magic Within||2|
|Somnath Bhatt||Sunrise / Sunset||1|
|Zach Poff||Acknowledging Other Ears||1|
|Saskia Wilson-Brown||Speculative Scentscape||1|
|Parsons & Charlesworth||The Last Object on Earth||1|
|Damon Locks||Now Has Never Been Done Before||1|
|Tarfia Faizullah||Deprogramming The Artist||1|
|How We Hold||Issue 7|
The thematic question for this issue of New Suns surfaced in the last issue, Ways of Learning. As contributors emphasized the importance of archives in their practices, we were compelled to ask:
How do artists approach vessels and containers, both in terms of utilitarian object and metaphor?
We were also inspired by Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction,” in which she positions the carrier (basket, net, pouch) as more compelling and more necessary than any weapon (spear, stick, arrow) or hero wielding it.
This latest issue of New Suns examines how five artists hold and carry their memories and dreams through wood, fruit, feathers, and glass. We’ve learned that these materials possess their own histories and desires that the artists respect, admire, and uplift through their work. As you spend time with each of them, we hope you feel a renewed sense of what it means to gather and collect.
|Ways of Learning||Issue 6|
At its best, teaching is a humanistic project that has the power to help us build strong communities. However, mainstream systems of education not only discourage the joyful exploration that comes naturally to learners, but uphold the status quo, reproducing inequities.
For this issue, we wanted to explore teaching and educational practices, to probe at what’s necessary in an education, how to meet the needs of students of all backgrounds, and what skills are crucial to cultivate.
In the beginning, we wondered how artmaking itself, as a unique mode of inquiry, could be a useful model for pedagogy. In retrospect, we discovered that wasn’t quite the correct framing. In listening to the generous perspectives of our contributors, we leaned into being students and shifted our ideas: accepting imperfection and focusing on the process of inquiry over the outcome.
For that reason, we felt it was fitting for this issue to unfold through a series of exploratory conversations. We sought out artists who place emphasis on the intellectual work and artistry of teaching itself and who have made it a mission to subvert the current system.
How can we center justice, wonder, and possibility in education?
The conversations that make up the issue reveal how expansive the topic of education can be, from creating intentional spaces where the work of education can take place to following where a mistake can lead, sitting with ugly realities, and teaching people to think in ways that will help us build a better world.
We also came to understand how much of learning begins with building archives, even if the processes and histories being documented are messy or unfinished and the archive itself is untraditional. We were thrilled to continue this practice by documenting these nine brilliant artists, makers, and community builders in conversation. Through them we witnessed the kernels of new ideas spark into being, offering starting points for a different kind of education that centers justice, wonder, and possibility.
With that spirit in mind, we have collected discussion questions based on the interviews, which you can find below. We hope you will continue to explore with us!
|Keeping in Touch||Issue 5|
In recalling that the second issue, Seeding Care, centered around formations of kinship, this issue foregrounds the role that touch plays in sustaining connections to ourselves, each other, and the present moment. We invited contributors to reflect on their approach to physically and metaphorically “feeling” something out, and asked them:
How do artists use touch, tactility, and tacit knowledge in their practices?
Their responses vary, but each person identifies the importance of interfacing with a material, audience, or environment; of listening with one’s hands or whole body. These artists appreciate the sensing capacity of our skin and how the information it gathers plays a major role in the way we navigate both private life and public spaces. They recognize that our current conditions remain unsafe for the kinds of platonic touch humans tend to crave, and have instead created new ways to connect with themselves and their communities. And maybe most importantly, they argue that a touching approach is a fully-feeling approach, an approach that’s especially useful in bringing our racing minds to a gentle (or abrupt!) halt to insist on the now and not-yet-known.
In spending time with these artists’ musings, we hope you are reminded of the value of both feeling and feelings as you move through time.
With our first issue, Mapping the Horizon, we asked artists to look forward, upwards, and outwards into an imagined future. With this issue, we changed our perspective to look down, around, and in. Curious about how artists and makers can guide us to be thoughtful about our surroundings, we asked:
How do artists help us re-envision our relationship to land and nature?”
Issue 4 is an inquiry into place, a sort of field recording, guided by artists working in diverse mediums and approaches. They examine relationships and trouble the binaries between humans and their environment, taking into account the histories of movement and displacement that brought them to where they are now, into new communities of flora and fauna. They recognize that the ground beneath our feet has witnessed extraction of goods, cultivation of industrial crops, displacement of humans and other organisms, and the reinforcement of borders through Western cultural imperialism. But there is also beauty, calm, and bounty we can call upon in moments of strife, and knowledge of nature that allows us to sculpt better environments for human life.
We found that looking around naturally leads to inward contemplation, bringing themes of identity and community to the foreground, and when ruminating on the specificity of a place, evocative relationships emerge. The story of the land is not just outside, but reflects internal realities: what’s inside and outside are mutually reinforcing. Issue 4, Unearthing Common Ground, represents an ongoing inquiry into the ways people and the land need one another, and how their unique histories must be taken into account for mutual healing.
Kate Blair and Jessica Ferrer
|Marking Meaning||Issue 3|
This issue is a note on notation, those systems of symbols we employ as abbreviations for bigger and longer ideas, i.e. sheet music, algebra, HTML. When enough people agree about a particular kind of notation, it makes sharing information faster and easier. It also, however, codifies a way of doing something that unwittingly creates cognitive bias, a taking-for-granted that renders change inconvenient, if not unnecessary, because things seem fine as they are.
Yielding to the pre-existing makes us nervous; we worry about the exclusion and esotericism that occurs alongside our desire to exchange ideas conveniently. And so, in this issue, we’ve turned to six multi-hyphenate artists for insight into how we might resist notational bias, and ask:
What does notation do?
These artists celebrate notation as a vehicle for elaboration, correction, translation, and invention in their work. They nudge us out of our comfort zones, unsettling expectations for what a given mark might mean, and equip us with new shorthands for beauty, access, and belonging. They are unafraid to leave room for interpretation and inhabit spaces that are fluid and in-between. More than anything, in spending time with these artists and their ideas, it becomes clear that succumbing to existing notational systems is a creative dead-end, a sure way to halt worthwhile discovery. To stay open, in other words, is to stay possible.
With great care,
Jess Ferrer and Kate Blair
|Seeding Care||Issue 2|
What comes to mind when you consider kinship? The immediate associations are belonging, love, commonality. But there’s another aspect of this definition, too. At least the way we conceive of it in the United States, kinship can be a loaded term, which uses lineage as a way to transfer property, names, and power, or alternatively, to deny these things. Our current environment seems designed to only foreground the ways of belonging to one another that support the systems already in place, which too often leave our loved ones on opposite sides of borders, both invisible and visible, creating an inside and an outside.
To help us think through these tangled definitions for Issue 2, we asked:
How can artists help us better conceive of kinship (or reconceive it) by exploring paradigms of care, old and new?
With their attention to process and material and embodiment, the artists showcased provide useful ways to interrogate how care and kinship intersect. What comes out of these responses is an acknowledgement of the messy but profound connections all humans have to one another, to the land we live on, and the many strategies artists have for awakening or revisiting these connections.
We can look to natural metaphors as a means to guide our care for the humans in our lives or become attuned to the body’s existence in space as a means of understanding the power dynamics at play within and around us. We can turn to materials to consider the ways human lives are stitched together, or even the material of language itself as a tool that bridges space and time.
All of these responses are another way of asking, again, what is kinship, and who are kin? What work must we do to earn the honor of being kin to one another?
Kate Blair and Jessica Ferrer
|Mapping the Horizon||Issue 1|
Welcome to New Suns: Listening with Artists, where we connect with artists to learn from their experiences, ask them outlandish questions, and receive responses we don’t always expect. Here you will encounter, among other things, scintillating pixels, burbling ponds, and sentient blobs. What you will not find are cut-and-dry solutions, or grand claims about art’s ability to fix all of the problems facing society today. That is the work of everyone. We hope that each commission, though, illuminates the importance of process, play, and practice as we move through the world.
This inaugural issue is called Mapping the Horizon and features six artists’ explorations of horizons future, interior, and present. Commonly thought of as the place where sky meets earth, the horizon is also an unreachable place, a space of potential that begets endless journeying. The challenge of charting or depicting horizons inspired the question we asked contributors to consider this time around:
What does the future hold and what role do artists play in shaping it?
In launching this publication, we had hoped to facilitate a space of flexibility and reciprocity with artists to encourage moving at a slower and smaller pace than we often feel accustomed to. For some, the process kickstarted a new body of work or enabled experimentation. For others, it offered space for reflection on how they approach making. And as for us, we’re still pinching ourselves over the good fortune of being in conversation with such generous minds. It is our hope you feel the same after spending time with them, too.
Jessica Ferrer and Kate Blair