Ai Weiwei at Skirball Cultural Center

We love working with our longtime partner, Skirball Cultural Center, a community leader in the arts, poetry, and mindfulness, physically located in Los Angeles with a far-reaching impact beyond. Since 1996, Skirball has been a place of meeting, “guided by the Jewish tradition of welcoming the stranger,” and by democratic ideals of freedom and equality. It is among the leading cultural venues in Los Angeles, “hospitable to and inclusive of all communities and committed to promoting cultural experiences that foster human connections and help build a more just society.”

We have worked to help support numerous Skirball programs and exhibitions in the past, including the groundbreaking Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, honoring the great justice in 2018-2019, Jewish Meditation in 2020, and their ongoing, much-in-demand Creative Writing Workshop.

Pivoting to remote offerings during the Covid-19 pandemic, the center has created the flexible, multi-offering Skirball at Home, a virtual meeting place, “where we can continue to stay in community, celebrate hope and discovery, and explore ways to build a better world together.” Skirball at Home is a wonderful resource providing virtual talks and concerts, online classes, family-friendly activities to do at home, and carry-out meals prepared by Skirball‘s culinary team.

We’re particularly excited to announce our partnership with Skirball and other cultural leaders in presenting a series of offerings from and with Ai Weiwei, the renowned and world-celebrated Chinese artist and activist whose multifaceted array of creative work, including sculptural installations, architectural projects, and photographs, addresses human-rights violations and the interconnectivity of human suffering worldwide, especially those that stem from unjust, profit-oriented cultural and economic systems. Among these, A Conversation with Ai Weiwei, which premiered on Skirball at Home on February 21st and is now streaming on YouTube, is a deeply meaningful conversation between Ai Weiwei and  Yael Lipschutz—Skirball curator, critic, and former archivist of the Noah Purifoy Foundation, who specializes in  postwar and contemporary art, critical theory,  film, and the Black Arts Movement—in an exchange that is acutely relevant to our fraught historical moment.

Following from the conversation (on a date still TBD due to Covid-19 restrictions), we are honored to support Skirball in its presentation of Trace, the Los Angeles debut of Ai Weiwei ‘s exhibition—featuring three of the installation’s original six floor panels—of individuals from more than twenty-five countries around the world whom the artist and various human rights groups consider to be activists, prisoners of conscience, and advocates of free speech. Each of the eighty-three portraits on display is hand-assembled and made up of thousands of LEGO® bricks. Skirball is now offering, free of charge, a virtual mobile guide to Trace, which allows for an in-depth interactive exploration of the exhibit. In addition, it’s an honor to help support the accessible streaming of some of Ai Weiwei’s most powerful films, now to be found for rental or purchase on the Skirball site.

In gratitude for the richness that Skirball continues to offer as we navigate a pandemic and ongoing isolation, we’ll keep you updated on Skirball offerings throughout the year, including in-person access to  Ai Weiwei ‘s Trace when conditions allow.

We’ll also be reminding you in much greater detail about a special Earth Day conversation and reading with U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo on Thursday, April 22, 7:00 pm that we’re thrilled to sponsor. During this Earth Day special virtual presentation, Joy will explore the ways her poems create a dialogue with history, locate blessings in her homeland, and fearlessly address the injustices that have left U.S. Indigenous cultures struggling with generations of sorrow and lack. Please save the date!

Although meetings on the beautiful campus are much missed, continued access to their always-dynamic museum collection as well as at-home art projects, behind-the-scenes staff content, peaceful nature photos from the stunning Skirball grounds, and inspiring content from artist leaders such as Joy Harjo and Ai Weiwei are helping to keep us hopeful and strong.