Hosted by Sarah Urist Green, a former curator of contemporary art at the Indianapolis Museum Of Art, directed by Mark Olsen, and edited by Brandon Brungard, The Art Assignment was a weekly educational web series that connected viewers to contemporary art through the artists that created it. The series, which premiered on February 20, 2014, was produced through a partnership between PBS Digital Studios and the Indianapolis-based production studio, Complexly. The series stopped production in July 2020.

A man and a woman look at each other.
John Green and Sarah Urist Green in The Art Assignment, ca. 2010s Credit: The Art Assignment View Source

For the first three years of The Art Assignment, Green worked with emerging and established artists from across the United States. Assignment videos introduced viewers to different approaches in contemporary art while contextualizing them within the broader scope of art history. The artists featured in each video provided assignments related to their particular style of art and prompted viewers to participate by completing these assignments. Viewers were encouraged to share their responses to the assignment, which would then be highlighted and discussed in Response videos.

The series later expanded to cover a wider range of content aimed at making art and art history more approachable to viewers. The Case For videos presented arguments for why certain artists, movements, and aspects of art are important. Art Cooking explored how food provided inspiration as both subject matter and medium for artists throughout history. In Art Trips, viewers were taken on virtual field trips to experience contemporary art all over the United States. For AP Art History, the show partnered with Smarthistory to provide content geared specifically for students taking this advanced course and exam. The Art Assignment also produced a range of topical, art-related videos focused on challenging subjects, misconceptions, and current events.

The Art Assignment attracted over 600,000 subscribers and 30 million views. The series was even turned into a physical exhibit in 2016, featuring the work of three Indianapolis artists (Brian McCutcheon, Nathaniel Russel, and Lauren Zoll).

Two women in gorilla masks sit in the middle of a room. They are being interviewed by a woman sitting across from them. A camera person records the interview.
Guerilla Girls on the set of The Art Assignment, 2016 Credit: The Art Assignment View Source

In 2020, Green published You Are An Artist, which presents a collection of over 50 art assignments commissioned from contemporary artists. The collection includes a mix of new assignments as well as assignments featured in the series.

Revised June 2021

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