630 episodes

The National Endowment for the Arts podcast that goes behind the scenes with some of the nation’s great artists to explore how art works.

Art Works Podcast National Endowment for the Arts

    • Arts
    • 4.5 • 33 Ratings

The National Endowment for the Arts podcast that goes behind the scenes with some of the nation’s great artists to explore how art works.

    Conversations with Wood: The Art of Luis Tapia

    Conversations with Wood: The Art of Luis Tapia

    Sculptor and 2023 National Heritage Fellow Luis Tapia has helped to revitalize and transform the art of the santero (a person who makes religious imagery), a Hispanic tradition practiced in New Mexico and southern Colorado that goes back over 400 years. In this podcast, Tapia discusses his artistic journey. He began by reproducing traditional Santos (carved and painted statues of saints). But the Chicano movement, which revolved around farm workers' rights, was significant in his artistic development. He became curious about his cultural and historical identity and the result of that curiosity became apparent in his art.  He began incorporating bright colors and modern figures into his work, which continued the forms and styles of traditional religious iconography while reflecting contemporary issues. He placed his “saints” among us-- as immigrants crossing a border, a man in jail, a grandmother protecting her grandchild. His blending of tradition with the contemporary, the sacred with the quotidian, was, at the time, controversial but now has been adopted by other santeros. Tapia also talks about his approach to sculpting which ensures his pieces are viewed from all angles, allowing them to reveal complex stories from multiple perspectives. He describes his process as a dialogue between himself and the wood, starting with a concept and asking questions as he carves until the piece evolves. He also discusses the diverse range of art he creates: from religious icons to vibrant pieces inspired by pop culture, like his sculptures inspired by lowriders which have great cultural significance in New Mexico. Tapia finally emphasizes the paramount importance of cultural memory, observation, and storytelling that resonate through every piece he creates. Let us know what you think about Art Works—email us at artworkspod@arts.gov.

    • 41 min
    Meet Two People Who Make Performing Art Happen

    Meet Two People Who Make Performing Art Happen

    It’s a two-part podcast looking at one topic: exploring ways arts are being encouraged in communities.  First up, philanthropist Adrienne Arsht.  Arsht discusses her long-term support for the arts-- at The Kennedy Center, at Lincoln Center, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and reflecting upon her decision to make a sizable donation to sustain the performing arts center in Miami ---now the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami-Dade County which had been about close. Arsht also discusses  the importance of having a performing arts center in every great city and highlights how Miami's diverse community was reflected in the center's programming from the beginning. Arsht also discusses her commitment to arts education through the flagship program "Learning Through the Arts" at the Adrian Arsht Center and her ground-breaking funding of paid internships at both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Adrienne Arsht Center, emphasizing the importance of breaking down barriers that prevent talented individuals from pursuing internships and the positive impact of these programs.

     Then we hear from Debbie Shapiro the artistic director of the Marie Rader Presenting Series at Rowan University. The series brings award-winning and emerging artists to South Jersey, emphasizing transformative engagement that goes beyond performances which includes direct interactions between world-class artists and students, as well as partnerships with community organizations in the region.  Shapiro discusses the series and its curation which is unique in that it's integrated within the College of Performing Arts at Rowan University, allowing for close collaboration with faculty and a focus on aligning the artist selections with the educational offerings of the university. The programming  reflects the diversity of the audience which comprises community members, Rowan students, university employees, faculty from various area colleges, and families of the students.

    • 42 min
    Is Storytelling a key to better public Health?

    Is Storytelling a key to better public Health?

    A conversation with Dr. David Fakunle who uses the art of storytelling to promote public health by listening, understanding, and addressing the personal, social, and structural factors that contribute to health disparities. He powerfully combines science with art and is transforming discussions about the role of storytelling in healing.  Dr. Fakunle shares his personal story of growing up in a family deeply rooted in the arts, especially music and storytelling. His childhood was marked by significant cultural influences, such as his experiences at the Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore and his memorable encounter with renowned griot, Mary Carter Smith who with 2019 National Heritage Fellow Linda Goss co-founded the Association of  Black Storytellers.  Dr. Fakunle took these influences to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where he realized the deeper implications about the potential of storytelling in the realm of public health. Fakunle's innovative ideas were supported by the faculty, and upon graduation, he began teaching storytelling in the Mental Health Department at Hopkins,  emphasizing the importance of effectively communicating scientific research through engaging narratives. Fakunle argues that the profound benefits of storytelling in health communication come from its ability to resonate with audiences but more importantly,  authentic narratives and voices need to be central in discussions about health challenges

    Dr. Fakunle also discusses his many years of work at WombWork Productions (where he is now executive director). WombWork is a social change performing arts company. Under his leadership, the company shifted its focus from implicit to explicit public health impact, tackling a range of serious topics such as HIV, gang violence, and child sexual abuse through art. Dr. Fakunle’s passionate belief  that the creative process serves as a crucial part of the healing process is the thread that moves through all his work.

    • 34 min
    The Kinetic Sculpture Race: Art in Motion

    The Kinetic Sculpture Race: Art in Motion

    We are revisiting one of my favorite interviews—a 2013 conversation with Kati Texas about the Kinetic Sculpture Race.

    The Kinetic Grand Champion Race is a one-of-a-kind, multi-day event that combines engineering, art, athleticism, and a strong sense of fun. It involves teams competing with human-powered, artistically-themed contraptions that are engineered to race over land, mud, sand, and water terrains. Originating in 1969, this quirky competition has grown to become a significant and anticipated event in Humboldt County, California, where the Kinetic Grand Championship is held each year.

    As you will hear, one of the standout features of this event is its joyful and humorous atmosphere. Spectators line the streets to cheer on their favorite racers, and participants often dress in elaborate costumes, aligning with the theme of their sculpture. Furthermore, the race is characterized by unique and whimsical award categories, such as the "Golden Flipper" for sculptures that tip over or the "Poor, Pitiful Me" award for the racer perceived to whine or complain the most. And Kati herself is a Rutabaga Queen (a highly coveted title!)

    It's hard to imagine a better guide for a behind-the-scenes look at this human-powered art race than Katie Texas.  Aside from being a veteran racer herself, Katie has served the Kinetic Universe as president of its board of directors.  The Kinetic Sculpture Race is not only a celebration of art and engineering but also of community spirit and the joy of taking on challenges with creativity and a smile.  As you’ll hear in this podcast, participants and spectators alike are united in their love for this eccentric, innovative, and delightful event.

    • 27 min
    In the Beginning: the Late Stan Lee Gave Us the Marvel Superheroes

    In the Beginning: the Late Stan Lee Gave Us the Marvel Superheroes

    In this visit to our archives, we dive deep into the mind of the legendary late Stan Lee, the maestro behind Marvel Comics' most iconic characters. From the origins of Spider-Man's creation, inspired by a simple insect on a wall, to the inception of the Fantastic Four, Stan Lee recounts his journey of transforming the world of comics. He delves into the realism he injected into his characters, from Peter Parker's New York residence to the X-Men's mutant origins. While discussing his desire for characters to be relatable, Lee highlights the importance of infusing everyday, human elements into the grandeur of superhero tales. Whether you're a Marvel aficionado or just a casual fan, this episode offers a unique glimpse into the creative process of one of the most influential figures in the comic book industry.

    The origin stories of our favorite characters are more grounded than one might think. The iconic Spider-Man, for instance, was born from Lee's observation of a mere spider scaling a wall. It made him wonder: what if a human had the abilities of a spider? Such simple, yet profound musings led to the birth of Peter Parker, a character whose human struggles resonated as much as his superhuman feats.

    But the revelations don't stop there. The Fantastic Four, Marvel's first superhero team, weren't just an assemblage of abilities but a reflection of family dynamics, friendship, and human resilience. Lee's brilliance lay not just in creating superheroes but in giving them depth, layers, and a touch of realism. He shares his thought process behind anchoring his characters in real-world cities, like Peter Parker's residence in New York, a tangible place that readers could identify with.

    In this episode, the late Stan Lee underscores a philosophy that became the hallmark of Marvel Comics: the marriage of the ordinary and the extraordinary. It wasn't just about capes, superpowers, or intergalactic wars. It was about heart, emotion, and the very human journey of self-discovery.

    • 30 min
    Back to School: Teaching artist Emmett Phillips creates dynamic arts education programming through hip-hop.

    Back to School: Teaching artist Emmett Phillips creates dynamic arts education programming through hip-hop.

    Emmett Phillips is a hip-hop artist,  actor, poet, and teaching artist based in Des Moines, Iowa. In this podcast, Emmett shares his journey from his early days in hip-hop through his time in the military to becoming a teaching artist who empowers youth through the arts, specifically hip-hop. Emmett discusses hip-hop as a cultural movement that uplifts people, amplifies the voices of the oppressed, and expresses ideas and values with creativity and style. He talks about his personal growth through hip-hop and how it inspired him to become a teaching artist, helping students find their voices and build confidence.  Emmett describes his work at Oakridge Neighborhood, a multi-faceted community organization where he has infused hip-hop into the art program. He shares stories of students who have transformed from shy and hesitant to confident performers through hip-hop. He details the creation of the music video made by the Children of Oakridge Neighborhood “Success is my Protest,” describing the collaborative process by which it was made and how the project empowered the young people. Emmett talks about his work in arts education creating curriculum for public schools, community organizations, and universities, and the role of arts education in empowering youth, building confidence, and fostering positive change within communities. Overall, Emmett Phillips's work highlights the demonstrable power of arts education, the creative exuberance of hip-hop and how the two can come together to create dynamic classrooms.

    • 36 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
33 Ratings

33 Ratings

ArtfulAlto ,

Rich content, fascinating guests

Hi Reed as a host is a treasure

Jean-Vicent ,


I love this app! Love it!

Runread ,

Five Stars!

Very well produced, wide range of topics. Great podcast!

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