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Issue : Fall

What makes an artist iconic? It depends whom you ask. For us at Art in America, it has to do with their impact on other artists, their influence on visual culture, and, ultimately, their effect on history and society. That latter quality is a tough one to gauge; it’s a bit like the proverbial butterfly flapping its wings. But the artists we feature in this issue as icons have left their mark, to be sure. 

Suzanne Jackson cultivated the talent of other Black artists with her Gallery 32 in the 1960s, and her own abstract paintings contain oblique references to the painful history of the American South. Cameron Rowland’s conceptual practice is a means for enacting reparations. For filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha, as Tausif Noor writes, “the idea of the personal-as-political is not a mere catchphrase but a philosophy of existing in a world defined by colonialism, imperialism, and military occupation.” Ed Ruscha, for his part, “doesn’t shy away from talking about commercial vernacular,” as fellow artist Dena Yago told us, while discussing how such vernacular “governs our lives as the substrate of capitalism.” In Yvonne Rainer’s work as a dancer and choreographer, A.i.A. senior editor Emily Watlington discovered an early foray into disability art. And G. Peter Jemison, whose work features in a special pull-out print in this issue, figures in the significant history of Native American art.

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