Note: Be sure to review all resources and preview all artists before determining if they are appropriate to share with your students.
Stumbling upon a new-to-you artist can be a rush! Maybe you see an artist online or in person that you absolutely love. You immediately check social media to see if the artist has an active online presence, then gawk at the breadth of their work! Social media and the internet help us get to know contemporary artists better. Watch a short video of an artist interview, view a reel of their process, or click on a story of their studio space. All of these options give us a valuable inside look into their work and lives. While we advocate in our classrooms that everyone can be an artist, social media can turn anyone who creates content (versus creating art) into a viral artist.
Start the conversation.
Facilitate a discussion with your students about what it takes to claim the “artist” title. There are no right or wrong answers but prompting dialogue on this topic can help students to more thoughtfully consider the artists they look at. This conversation will be particularly helpful if teaching an advanced course that uses research such as a Comparative Study.
Here are three questions to discuss:
- Which is most valid and why? Having a social media account with a certain amount of followers, a professional portfolio website, or a biography on a reputable museum or gallery site?
- Should someone have their artwork on display in a museum or gallery in order to claim “artist” rights?
- Do artists need to have their work available to purchase or have work sold to have the “artist” title?
Investigate the artworks of the following fourteen diverse contemporary artists.
1. Adam Parker Smith
Adam Parker Smith is a New York-based sculpture and installation artist, born in 1978. Parker Smith’s current works reimagine Roman marble statues as smashed, cubed, and compressed forms that fit within an invisible rectangular prism. Another series showcases noodles and sauce suspended inside an Amphora vessel.
2. Audrey Montoya
Audrey Montoya is a contemporary artist from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her current works are “… created in reaction to the current state of everything… the way lucky charms are slimy and crunchy at the same time.” Soft sculptures are her go-to medium. Montoya’s current favorite subjects include needle-felted fruit, clouds, cereal pieces, and eggs.
3. Austin Gober
Austin Gober is a contemporary artist working in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Geometric patterns, solid colors, and radiant cartoon outlines are characteristic of Gober’s painting style.
4. Basqo Bim
Basqo Bim is a Colombian-American artist working in New Orleans, Louisiana. Bim currently works in assemblage and sculpture. They want to push boundaries, shift reality, and touch base with different cultures.
5. Grant Levy-Lucero
Grant Levy-Lucero is currently a Los Angeles, California ceramicist, born in 1981. Levy-Lucero’s current body of work features popular food brands to highlight consumer culture. Most recently he painted a vase with the Mexican candy logo, de la Rosa.
6. Greg Mike
Greg Mike currently practices art in Atlanta, Georgia. Mike is a Pop artist and muralist whose inspiration derives from mid-century American cartoons, graffiti, skateboarding, and Surrealism. He creates his own twisted characters with vivid colors.
7. Jacob Hashimoto
Jacob Hashimoto is an installation artist based in Ossining, New York, born in 1973. Hashimoto creates intricate sculptures and installations using unconventional media like kits, cubes, or model boats. Hashimoto’s installations are an engulfing experience and force viewers to question everything!
8. Jess Owens-Young
Jess Owens-Young is an American mixed-media artist, born in 1986. Owens-Young focuses on the resilience and joy of black people in America.
9. Julie Alpert
Julie Alpert is a Tulsa, Oklahoma-based artist exploring nostalgic childhood themes through installations. Pastel pigments, delicious patterns, and larger-than-life sizes round up this artist’s current breadth.
10. Lala Abaddon
Lala Abaddon has a studio in Syracuse, New York and in the Chihuahua, Mexico desert on an off-the-grid homestead. Abaddon creates energetic, pixelated weavings using rainbow-colored paper and photographs. Creating mind-blowing compositions that depict her personal trauma helps her process and heal.
11. Paige Ledom
Paige Ledom has an art studio in her hometown of Kansas City, Kansas. Ledom is an interior designer with a visual art degree. She uses paint samples to create inspiring collages that look like paintings.
12. Shirin Hosseinvand
Shirin Hosseinvand is an Iranian-American artist who creates art based on her culture. Hosseinvand merges ancient Iranian mosaic mirror work with Pop Art. She wants to “give an ethnic identity to the concept of globalization and mass production.” Her disco-ball tiled soda cans shine in a new light.
13. Steven Paul Judd
Steven Paul Judd is a Kiowa and Choctaw Oklahoman artist who was born in Lawton, Oklahoma. He is a filmmaker, director, screenwriter, and visual artist. His most recent writing stint was on Hulu’s Reservation Dogs. Judd’s art focuses on depicting real Native American people in a Pop Art style through tongue-in-cheek methods. For instance, in one of his Instagram posts, he held up a drawing of a traditional Native American woman’s garment over the Statue of Liberty with the title Decolonize Liberty.
14. Yvette Mayorga
Yvette Mayorga is a contemporary mixed-media artist born in 1991 in Moline, Illinois. Mayorga’s current favorite mediums are painting, sculpture, installation, and video. Maximalism is key for Mayorga! She creates personal art to explore Mexican American life in the United States. Her mom was a department store baker when she immigrated to the U.S., and Yvette honors this by piping thick paint onto the canvas to mimic icing.
Hopefully, you discovered some new artists from this compilation! Take some time to peruse their websites and scroll their social grids. Give them a follow to see their daily progress and watch their career skyrocket. Consider which artists you can include in your current lesson plans to add more connections. Tag the artists when posting student work inspired by their style, process, or concept. As you and your students discover more about these contemporary artists, you may find inspiration for your own work as well!
For more ways to incorporate contemporary artists like these into your classroom, check out the two Packs from PRO Learning below:
- Contemporary Art in the Secondary Classroom
- Celebrating Diversity Through Contemporary Art
Which of these contemporary artists are you excited to share with your students?
How do you determine if an artist is reputable enough to add to the curriculum?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.