The artists in this photo inspire what I write.
Writers like Holland Cotter inspire how I write.
This year I have been blessed with the good fortune of having Holland Cotter, the co-chief art critic for the New York Times, as my mentor. During this time he has been both a sage and a sounding board, suffering through my manic maze of disparate thoughts to parse out words of wisdom that help me distill and refine my voice. His practical advice, honest feedback and relatable perspective on the art world has reinforced my chosen path while also keeping me grounded in reality.
The art reviews and essays I write always come from an outsider’s point of view. I make no assumptions that people love (or understand) the work I talk about, yet I strive to find some relatable tidbit of information to make a piece come alive. This is what I love about Holland Cotter’s writing; he has the mind of a historian who deftly weaves historical context into the shows he critiques, articulating the connection to the work that’s rarely captured in the wall text in a gallery.
Today’s NYT review on Glenn Ligon’s “Blue Black” at the Pulitzer is no exception. The timing of this review, coinciding with the three-year anniversary of Mike Brown’s death, exemplifies the crucial role art plays in helping us see and process what’s going on around us. With each work described in the show Cotter succinctly brings forth various artistic points of view that connect to Blue Black’s theme. Ligon’s show is a brilliantly thoughtful one. Not only does it contain a roster of diverse artists, it is a curatorial case study of how art should be shown and experienced.
From time to time I find myself unplugging from museum and gallery shows–that’s what summer vacations are all about. Eventually, necessity snaps us back to reality–but if we’re lucky, serendipity reminds us why we love the work we do in the first place. Holland Cotter, thank you for always reminding me to just “do the work.”