Ahead of Their Time

2013, Number 2

About this issue: 

In the modern era, it seems preposterous that jazz music was once considered controversial, that stream-of-consciousness was a questionable literary technique, or that photography was initially dismissed as an art form. As tastes have evolved and cultural norms have broadened, surely we’ve learned to recognize art—no matter how novel—when we see it.

Or have we? When the NEA first awarded grants for the creation of video games about art or as works of art, critical reaction was strong—why was the NEA supporting something that was entertainment, not art? Yet in the past 50 years, the public has debated the legitimacy of street art, graphic novels, hip-hop, and punk rock, all of which are now firmly established in the cultural canon. For other, older mediums, such as television, it has taken us years to recognize their true artistic potential.

In this issue of NEA Arts, we’ll talk to some of the pioneers of art forms that have struggled to find acceptance by the mainstream. We’ll hear from Ian MacKaye, the father of Washington, DC’s early punk scene; Lady Pink, one of the first female graffiti artists to rise to prominence in New York City; Art Spiegelman, author of Maus, who turned his love of
comics into a new literary genre; and David Chase, the creator of the acclaimed television program The Sopranos. We’ll also look at the emerging artistic movement in suburban architecture, which is beginning to transition from profit-driven, mass-market appeal to creative, thoughtful design.

Cover Credit: 

Lady Pink's Lady of the Leaf, 2011, was featured in her exhibition at Woodward Gallery in New York City. Photo by Lady Pink

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