Culture Q&A: Sarah Urist Green

As host of the PBS Web video series <em>The Art Assignment</em>, Green hands out “homework” every other week from a different artist.

How did the idea for the series come about?

I think it is important to see the artist trying to do something or be in the middle of that thought process. I think people have the misconception that inspiration is like a bolt of lightning and it’s magical, and it’s not—artists, just like anyone else, struggle.
How has the public responded?
People are actually doing these things. With each assignment, I think to myself, are people actually going to do this? And they do. Some assignments get 1,000 responses, and some get a couple hundred, and I like that.
The Fault in Our Stars was huge this summer. Has your husband [John Green]’s book and movie success affected your work?
One of the reasons that this show has been fun to work on together is that it gives us an excuse to travel together. I do the large majority of the work for the art assignment, and he shows up to film. I write everything for it, but we talk things through when an artist comes to me with an idea. John’s general role is adviser, and he also kind of plays the everyman that knows less about art than I do.
What do you hope the series achieves?
I hope that it opens previously closed minds to art being made today. I hope people feel more comfortable in museums and galleries. I hope people are less dismissive and afraid or skeptical of contemporary art. I hope that people make things and learn from that experience.
The Ticket 2014 coverThis article appeared in The Ticket, a 2014 special publication.