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"To Lift" by Richard Serra, 1967 | MoMA Education

Video transcript
- Hi, I'm Mark Epstein. I'm a School Programs Educator here at the Museum of Modern Art and today, I'm gonna talk about Richard Serra's piece, To Lift. When I bring students to this object, what I like to do first is have them walk around the piece and if you walk around the piece, you really can start to notice these amazing indentations in the surface and we don't know exactly what the history of this piece is, but it looks like things have happened. There's little nicks in the surface over there. What I have students do, after they walk around, is they do a sketch of the piece for a couple of minutes and then they also think about, if they could title the piece, what the title would be. And we talk about the titles that they have come up with and they're, they run the gamut from sort of really dark, somebody called it Satan's cave one day to somebody called it Edible Scarf the other day. And we talk about the titles and we try and group the titles and see if there's anything in common about them. And then what we do is we, just do some observation. So, we talk about what the piece is made out of. We try and guess by looking at the surface down there and we come to the fact that it's flexible and then I go into some information about what Richard Serra was actually trying to do, about the process that he used to make the piece. I think students are surprised to see an object that's made out of a really inexpensive, every day material. Kids say often that it reminds them of the, the material you put under carpeting so the carpeting stays in place. And I think that they really relate to this idea that Richard Serra took this every day material and then he's in his studio and he's just sort of seeing what he can do to it. And I think there's a playfulness that kids really relate to that they don't expect to necessarily find in modern and contemporary art. I'm really drawn to this object as an artist because you can really see the gesture in it. You can imagine Richard Serra in the studio lifting the piece. And I'm also really intrigued by the idea that the gesture is repeated by an installer or a team of installers every time the piece is installed. For students, makes them think about the possibilities of art work and think that art work is not just created with brushes and paint. It's not just created with, ya know, welding and steel. It can be created from anything around them and hopefully it gives them a different view when they're walking down the street, looking at things in piles that like, hey this is a possibility for an art material and I love that.