The Art Assignment is an educational video series produced in partnership with PBS Digital Studios that focuses on the creative process and the act of making. The series is anchored by episodes that introduce you to emerging and established artists, each of whom devise and share an assignment that relates to their approach to art and serves as an open call for makers across the globe. Celebrating risk-taking in the creative process, The Art Assignment exposes you to alternative approaches to art-making and the most innovative minds in art today.
Seeking to demystify contemporary art for broad audiences, The Art Assignment teaches art history through the lens of the present. Assignment episodes feature animated sequences that bring art history to life and provide context for the assignments, linking each activity to techniques used by artists in the past. The series also includes videos that present the work of artists from the past century in ways that emphasize their relevance today, with videos such as The Case for Mark Rothko and Fierce Women of Art. Other videos explore common questions about and responses to art, including What’s a Curator?, How to Critique, and I Could Do That.
A vibrant community of participants has built up around the series, and thousands of artworks have been made and shared in response to the assignments. Community responses are routinely highlighted through social media and in videos that demonstrate the breadth of work generated by each challenge.
Whether it is used as a classroom tool or experienced at home, The Art Assignment works to demonstrate the diversity, accessibility, and relevance of art being made now and in the recent past.
I’m confused. How does this work?
If you’d like to respond to one of our art assignments, simply choose one, create your response, and post it to your social media platform of choice. Find more details here. If you’re not interested in doing the assignments, but would like to learn more about art being made today and in the past, you can watch the videos and participate in discussions in YouTube comments, on tumblr, etc.
Are there deadlines?
Nope. These assignments are designed to be responded to whenever the spirit moves you. We regularly search social media platforms for #theartassignment, and happily reblog responses no matter how long ago the assignment was issued. We do routinely publish response Highlights Videos, but we encourage you to create responses even if the highlights video has already been posted.
Can I submit more than one response?
Of course! We often receive multiple responses from community members, and we like that.
I can’t do one of the assignments because of a very good reason. Why did you make an assignment that I can’t do?
We strive to present a super wide range of assignments that represent the many different ways artists work. While we try to make each assignment as accessible as possible, we understand--and hope you do, too--that there are a large number of assignments and we don’t assume you will do all of them. We also hope that if circumstances preclude you from completing an assignment now, it might become possible in the future. Also, please remember you can interpret a given assignment any way you like. Make it work for you.
How are featured artists selected?
Sarah Urist Green makes these selections based on a wide variety of factors, with the goal of presenting a diverse range of artists working in a wide variety of media, using many different approaches, and living in disparate locations.
I have an idea for an artist to feature. How can I share it?
We are always happy to hear suggestions. Please send us a message on Tumblr, post your idea on Twitter, or you can email us: email@example.com. You may not hear back, but trust that we’ve received it and are grateful for your input.
Do you come up with the assignment or does the featured artist?
We commission our featured artists to come up with the assignment and work with them to refine it for our online community.
Why haven’t you been to my town?
There are so many great artists working in so many great places, and there are only so many days and travel dollars in the year! We do our best to get to new places and have a long list of cities we’d like to travel to and artists we’d like to feature. We’ll try to get to you soon!
Why do some responses get featured and others not?
Our process is subjective, and there are always excellent responses that slip through the cracks. Sarah and sometimes the featured artist select responses to discuss in Highlights Videos, and often selection are made not only based on merit but also on whether the artwork file size is large enough (or in focus!), and if would make for an interesting discussion. Please know we reblog all responses we can find with #theartassignment to our Response Blog, and Sarah reblogs a selection of responses to our Primary Tumblr.
I’d like to screen an episode of the series in my classroom or for an event. Do I need permission?
Nope. Please feel free to present these videos in a wide range of contexts. The videos are made to be shared, and it makes us happy when they are shared widely. No need to ask permission, but we always like hearing about how it goes! Post about your event or what your classroom does in response with #theartassignment to your social media platform of choice.
So you’re associated with PBS. Are you on TV?
We create this series in partnership with PBS Digital Studios, PBS’s network of online-only video series, and thus we are not on broadcast television. The Art Assignment is also available through PBS Learning Media, and also through the PBS app for Xbox.
I’d like to interview you or invite you to speak. How do I do that?
Thanks for your interest! It depends on timing and schedules, but feel free to reach out and we’ll respond if it’s feasible: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does The Art Assignment offer internships?
Sometimes. Please feel free to submit your resume and a brief note that mentions where you live and what you could contribute to the series: email@example.com.