On Thursday, November 9, at 6:00 pm, a new window of arts and culture is opened up with the premiere of Articulate with Jim Cotter on WTTW Prime. In 42 segments across 12 episodes, the show profiles a maker of extravagant hats worn by stars like Lady Gaga and Rihanna as well as a 92-year-old pianist who studied with Rachmaninoff. It dives into the art of using flowers as language and the way humanity explores its fear of death in art. An artist who works with plate glass, a sculptor who transforms marble into delicate arabesques, and a popular MacArthur-winning cartoonist and author explain their work and philosophies.
All of that’s ahead, but Articulate has already featured many fascinating people and topics on its website and in a previous season that was aired locally. We’ve picked some highlights.
Elizabeth Streb – Streb is considered a choreographer, but her death-defying, gravity-embracing, anti-graceful performances are like nothing else; her fearless dancers are even called “Action Heroes.”
Don’t Burn These Bridges – Articulate explores the many functions of bridges beyond simple transportation through identifying some astonishing examples of the form: as pop icon, as artwork, as cultural symbol, and as meeting place.
Walé Oyéjidé – Named a best-dressed man by Esquire magazine, Oyéjidé is much more than a style icon. A socially-minded fashion designer known for bold jackets whose apparel appears in the upcoming Black Panther Marvel film, he is also a recording artist and Afrobeat and hip-hop producer. And he was an attorney.
Artists Share Their Worst Advice – Being an artist is difficult enough without people trying to tell you how to be better. Five artists, including Walé Oyéjidé, relate terrible advice they’ve received and how their success proved it wrong.
Roomful of Teeth – This vocal octet produces sounds using just their vocal cords that you’ve probably never heard before – and it’s all in the service of some outstanding music, including a Pulitzer Prize-winning piece by member Caroline Shaw.
When Art Met Springfield – The Simpsons is the longest-running primetime TV show, having aired for nearly 30 years. In that time, it’s referenced – and skewered – all sorts of arts and culture. Articulate picked their favorite cultural homages on the animated show.
Mira Nakashima – Nakashima’s father George was a legendary and innovative furniture maker who coaxed natural forms out of wood instead of coercing it to fit his vision. His successful career began after he was forced into a Japanese internment camp during World War II. His daughter carries on his legacy.
Dude, Where’s My Sincerity – Since irony and sarcasm now pepper almost every interaction, Articulate takes a look at the history of irony, beginning with the anarchic Dadists of a century ago, moving through postmodernist literature, pop art, MTV, and that no-man’s land of the Internet and memes.
All the World’s a Stage – “Psychology and theater are the same thing. They’re both trying to figure out why humans do what they do, and how we can affect and change human behavior,” says a psychologist in this segment, which explores the similarities between acting on a stage and interacting with people in real life.
Art Wars – A series recounting famous – or infamous – rivalries between artists, the vastly different pairings in the final two episodes give you an idea of Articulate’s range: Taylor Swift and Kanye West, and Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal.