1980 to now

It's never been harder to define "art" than it is today, but one thing is certain — artists are always having a conversation with the time they live in.

videos + essays

Over the next two years, Seeing America will grow to include 100 videos, 18 essays, quizzes, discussion questions and lesson plans.

Superman, World War II, and Japanese-American experience
Superman, World War II, and Japanese-American experience

Superman makes an appearance in what looks (at first sight) like a Japanese print.

Desert to Suburb, framing the American Dream
Desert to Suburb, framing the American Dream

Building the American dream in the California desert.

What’s in a map? Reading the United “States” in Jaune Quick-To-See Smith’s <em>State Names</em>
What’s in a map? Reading the United “States” in Jaune Quick-To-See Smith’s State Names

Native American artist Jaune Quick-To-See Smith suggests that thinking about our history in a different way helps us rethink our present.

The American Revolution as a world war: Kenseth Armstead’s <em>Surrender Yorktown 1781</em>
The American Revolution as a world war: Kenseth Armstead’s Surrender Yorktown 1781

How can we begin to correct the lies of history? Artist Kenseth Armstead suggests a poetic solution.

Turning Uncle Tom’s Cabin upside down, Alison Saar’s Topsy
Turning Uncle Tom’s Cabin upside down, Alison Saar’s Topsy

A Greek myth and the American anti-Slavery novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin combine to upend our own contemporary myths

An unflinching memorial to Civil Rights martyrs, Thornton Dial’s <em>Blood and Meat</em>
An unflinching memorial to Civil Rights martyrs, Thornton Dial’s Blood and Meat

An unflinching memorial to civil rights martyrs by the contemporary artist Thorton Dial

The landscape remade, Thiebaud’s <em>Ponds and Streams</em>
The landscape remade, Thiebaud’s Ponds and Streams

Can the commonplace working farmland of California's Sacramento River Valley be a place of of breathtaking beauty?

American Kabuki
American Kabuki

Teraoka draws on Japan's brilliant history of art and kabuki theatre to create beauty from heartrending tragedy

Light, time, and transcendence in James Turrell’s <em>Skyscape</em>
Light, time, and transcendence in James Turrell’s Skyscape

A viewing station for sunrise and sunset, Turrell’s work manipulates light, time, and perception.

The Culture Wars and Richard Serra’s <em>Tilted Arc</em>
The Culture Wars and Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc

Who should be the arbiter of taste—the person on the street, the artist, the courts?

“That’s the deal you gave us,” trade myths and native land
“That’s the deal you gave us,” trade myths and native land

Smith created this in 1992, responding to the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in North America.

Television nation—Nam June Paik’s <em>Electronic Superhighway</em>
Television nation—Nam June Paik’s Electronic Superhighway

The “father of video art” argued that electronic communication, not transportation, unites the modern world.