A Tribute to Susan Sollins, Founder of Art21

Susan Sollins founded Art21 in 1997, leading the organization through seventeen years of innovation in art programming—including the first seven seasons of the Peabody Award-winning “Art in the Twenty-First Century” television series. Sollins passed away in October 2014.

“Susan Sollins was an innovator in every sense of the word, who provided the public with unparalleled access to contemporary artists and their practices through her founding of Art21,” said Agnes Gund, longtime supporter of Art21 and close contemporary of Sollins. “By showcasing artistic contributions in a filmic series, Art21 paved the way for broad education and accessibility into the world of contemporary art.”

“This whole endeavor is about falling in love with art and artists,” recalled Sollins about her founding of Art21. “That’s been a part of my life, always.”

Susan Sollins has been well known in the field of contemporary art for more than 30 years for her innovations in public programming and museum education, and as a curator. In addition to her work for many art institutions as a curator and consultant, Sollins was the co-founder and Executive Director Emerita of Independent Curators International (ICI), a nonprofit organization that develops, organizes, and circulates traveling exhibitions of contemporary art presenting a broad range of recent trends and aesthetic concerns to viewers nationwide and abroad. During her 21-year tenure, ICI’s 75 exhibitions featuring more than 1,700 artists were seen at more than 360 institutions and alternative spaces in the US, Europe, Canada, and Mexico.

This film was produced for the occasion of Art21’s 21st Birthday Gala, which took place on May 1, 2018 in New York City.

Learn more about Susan Sollins at:

CREDITS | Producer: Ian Forster. Editor: Morgan Riles. Archival Research: Ife Adelona. Interviews: Laurie Simmons & Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Footage Courtesy: NewsHour Productions, Peabody Awards, & Williams College.

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