Five Favorite Works of Art with April Richardson | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

Five Favorite Works of Art with April Richardson | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

(VOICEOVER): This episode is supported by Hover. This is April Richardson. Hi! SARAH URIST GREEN
(VOICEOVER): And this is her apartment, which
doesn’t reveal anything at all about her areas of interest. I live alone. I’m a very lonely person,
so you’re basically looking at all of my friends. SARAH URIST GREEN (VOICEOVER):
If you couldn’t tell, April is a stand-up
comedian, but she’s also a writer, created the much-loved
“Saved By the Bell” podcast “Go Bayside!” and makes frequent appearances
on “@midnight Midnight with Chris Hardwick.” But back to why we’re here. I’m April Richardson,
and these are five of my favorite works of art. Billy Bragg’s 1988 album
“Workers Playtime.” I first heard this album
when I was 17 years old, because a guy that I liked
put the song “The Only One” on a mixtape for me. SARAH URIST GREEN (VOICEOVER):
English singer-songwriter Billy Bragg released
“Workers Playtime” as his third full-length
album with the subtitle “Capitalism is Killing Music.” This is how she’d
describe his voice. Imagine if Bob
Dylan and The Clash were one person who
sounded like Michael Caine. SARAH URIST GREEN
(VOICEOVER): She even has a Billy Bragg tattoo, so
yeah, she’s kind of a big fan. This album has, like,
fiercely political songs right next to the most beautiful
love songs I’ve ever heard. This was the first
political music I heard that came
from a place of love, where it was like a
marriage of the two things, where it was like,
yes, I’m angry, yes, things need to change,
but the impetus for my activism is love for my fellow man. It was like a perfect
mix of those two things where it wasn’t just phrased
as sort of us against them or we got to take them down– which, again, totally valid
and I’m totally here for. But it was the first time I
heard songs that were like, let’s fix the system
because everybody matters and I love everybody. SARAH URIST GREEN
(VOICEOVER): So what happened to the mixtape guy? He’s married to another
person who isn’t me. We– we’re totally
still friends. Any zine made by
Tell us, April, what is a zine? A zine is a photocopied
magazine, basically, usually made by one person. SARAH URIST GREEN
(VOICEOVER): April has a collection of
zines she started in high school, which she
keeps in these file cabinets. She made and traded
zines with friends from all over the world. All I did was make zines. I never did homework– never– to where my
mom would be like, this is– you have to stop doing
this and do real schoolwork, and I was like, I’m
going to be fine, I think this will
help me at some point. And then when I moved to LA,
I got a job as a copy editor at MTV News and I brought my
zines to the job interview, and I was like, I’ve already
been writing about this stuff for free my whole teenage
life, and they were like, you’re hired. So suck it, Mom. SARAH URIST GREEN (VOICEOVER):
So who is this Molly Kalkstein? Well, Molly was
a pen pal of mine all throughout high school. She made many zines,
but the main one was called Tiger Voyage. And the effort that she
put into making her zines– it’s breathtaking, really,
because first of all, all of this is hand-cut. Like this– she cut these. They’re individual sheets of
paper that she cut and stapled. The first– the cover
has photo corners in which she’s inserted,
like, a transparency print that she made. All of this is typed with,
like, a handmade border. There are inserts–
photo corner inserts where she’s inserted individual
pages that she’s also hand-cut into it. SARAH URIST GREEN
(VOICEOVER): How did these compare to your zines? Yeah, I just remember
trading with her as a teenager and feeling guilty
because I was like, I didn’t do as good
of a job as you. This is very much not an
equal trade, but thank you. I mean, that’s how
sweet she is as well. I mean, it’s the
sort of thing where you get something like
this and you’re like, I have to step up my game. I mean, this is what somebody
made in their bedroom and it’s– uh, you know, to me this
is like a finer work of art than things hanging in museums
and it cost $2 and some stamps. “The Most Beautiful
Suicide” by Robert C. Wiles. SARAH URIST GREEN
(VOICEOVER): This photo appeared in the May 1947
issue of Life magazine and it depicts
23-year-old Evelyn McHale. She had jumped to her
death just moments before from the observation platform
of the Empire State Building, landing on a parked limousine. It’s powerful, it’s
haunting, and it’s hard to believe it’s real. I thought it looked like
the cover of a Smiths record. SARAH URIST GREEN
(VOICEOVER): The Smiths are one of April’s
all-time favorite bands and have album covers
that looked like this. So she’s right. Like, I thought it was fake. I thought it was
gorgeous, and I was like, this is a beautiful
photograph, but I’m like, yeah, this is a staged pose thing. Her death, it was so
violent and so tragic, but when you look
at the end result, it’s like she’s
sleeping peacefully. So there’s that
sort of odd comfort of like, no matter what
happens, at the end, we’re all just going
to fall asleep. SARAH URIST GREEN
(VOICEOVER): But it’s really complicated, right? I was a bit
nervous picking this because I absolutely don’t
want it to sound like I’m glorifying suicide in any way. And that’s another–
another set of emotions I feel about the picture
when I look at it, is, is it exploitative? Because the– the man who
took it was a photography student who heard what
happened– like, heard the woman fall into this
car, and grabbed his camera and took a picture,
which is very gross. Morally, what– what
area do you get into if– if your first instinct
is to pick up a camera? Is it like, oh, well,
I’m honoring her by capturing her last
moment, or is this, yeah, are you
exploiting her like– I– yeah, right? There’s no answer. One particular scene from
the movie “Hairspray” by John Waters. My favorite movie of all time is
“Hairspray,” the 1988 original by John Waters. SARAH URIST GREEN
(VOICEOVER): She’s not kidding– she has a “Hairspray”
poster in her kitchen. And there is one
particular scene in it that breaks my heart every time. It’s the scene where
Tracy and her boyfriend go to a segregated– it’s like
the black people’s dance party. The movie is about segregation
in Baltimore in the ’60s, and they go and there’s a
performer– the real guy, Toussaint McCall, a singer who
makes an appearance as himself. And Motormouth Maybelle,
a character in the movie, introduces him to the dancehall. When he’s introduced,
Motormouth Maybelle makes no effort to hide
the fact that she’s putting a needle on a record. Like they don’t– it’s not Milli
Vanilli style where it’s like, let’s play the tape backstage. She fully openly puts a needle
on the record, he comes out, starts lip syncing,
everyone still freaks out. No one is angry
about that or sad or is like, why isn’t
he singing live? They’re just so happy
to see him in the flesh. It’s just such a heartwarming
and heartbreaking scene all at the same time. And because the soundtrack
to the whole scene, again, is that song
that’s so sad– um, yeah, it’s just great. Siouxsie Sioux’s face! SARAH URIST GREEN
(VOICEOVER): Siouxsie Sioux, born Susan Ballion, is a punk
rock innovator and icon who was the lead singer of
Siouxsie and the Banshees, which formed in 1976. She’s hugely influential
and yeah, pretty much invented goth. Growing up– this
is my hair and skin. Like, I grew up a pale brunette
in a sea of tan blonde girls, and so already I was looking
to, like, Wednesday Addams and Morticia and the Munsters. Like, those were my style
people, because I was like, well, they look like me. It was either them
or Disney villains. Those were the only people
I saw that looked like me, and so when I saw Siouxsie with,
like, her shock of black hair and her super pale
skin and the fact that she was accentuating that
with makeup, it kind of blew my mind and it made me– now
I’m obsessed with makeup. I wear it all the time. I try to get super
Siouxsie went solo in 2004 and still puts out new music,
performs, and looks incredible. She’s still at it. She’s still at it and
she still looks amazing. I saw recent pictures
of her where I’m like, man, whatever you’re doing,
give me some of that. I want to age like
that for sure. SARAH URIST GREEN
(VOICEOVER): Thanks, April. Thank you for having me, and
I can talk about 500,000 more things anytime you need me to. I’d like to thank Hover
for sponsoring this episode. Hover is a service that
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support our show.

Dereck Turner

58 thoughts on “Five Favorite Works of Art with April Richardson | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

  1. Cherrilynn Lele Zhang says:


  2. Dani P says:

    I love that music and zines were included in "works of art". Great work, The Art Assignment!

  3. Clarissa Higginbotham says:


  4. Michael Sisko says:

    This is such a cool segment idea. Seeing what people consider art (someones face!), or art that is directly important to them. Awesome. Can't wait to check out the Billy Bragg album and the Hairspray movie.

  5. Xenolilly says:

    This was such a fun episode. I always find this show beautiful and educational, but this episode was extra entertaining.

  6. TheLuluTrue says:

    What a great way of looking at art!

  7. Neil Luczai says:

    i love these, please do more!

  8. Jenny Cope says:

    Such a true and relevant way of looking at art. We are all so bombarded with media and art in every conceivable form, today, that the works that end up meaning tho most to you personally are so much more varied than 5 classic novels or paintings but no less valid. For example I would consider the 2013 Tony Award's opening number to be one of my favourites and then IDK probably an Alan Bennett play and The Who's Tommy album. AND COMPLEXLY SERIOUSLY! I am so grateful to be living in a time with such great and thoughtful creators. I had the very good fortune to see Billy Brag at Glastonbury festival a few years ago he talked and played a few songs but was mainly introducing other politically minded artist and being part of discussions with the crowd in Left Field – a VERY inspiring man.

  9. Brandon B. says:

    Wow this chick is awesome, what a great segment idea.

  10. Alin Purcaroiu says:

    but she is so soo pretty !

  11. Gia S. says:

    Awesome video! It's so interesting to see other people's favorite art.

  12. Edvard Munch says:

    Good watch. I want moar.

  13. DontMockMySmock says:

    This video got me thinking about my five favorite works of art. I don't know that "favorites" is a super useful concept, to be honest, but here's five that sprung to mind – definitely not an exhaustive list and not necessarily my five most favorite, but just the five I thought of right now:

    "The Fair Captive" by Rene Magritte (1947 version) – Magritte is most famous for "The Treachery of Images," in which he points out the difference between reality (a real pipe) and representations of reality (a painting of a pipe). But there is much more to be explored on that topic, and Magritte explored the hell out of it. "The Fair Captive" is part of that exploration, wherein a painting of a beach landscape is placed in that landscape such that it appears to be a transparent window – except for the reflection of the flames which betrays its solidity. We are tempted to imagine that the beach is real, and the painting is not, merely an image of the beach – but of course, the beach is not real either; both are part of Magritte's painting. The absurdity of imagining symbols/art/images as real objects is alluded to in the absurdity of the flaming tuba.

    "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin – Alright so this is obviously way overplayed and cliche, but it's played a lot for a reason. It combines superb musicality with thought-provoking lyrics. A lot of the lyrics are absurd (you may notice a trend on this list, I like silly absurd things), but what can be reasonably interpreted speaks to the tragedy of death and a reflection upon the legacy one leaves behind. Regrets, dreams, and hope. And also it fucking rocks.

    "Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn" by Ai Weiwei – This one is your fault, Art Assignment. I don't think I need to say anything on this subject, Art Assignment said it already.

    "Bastion" by Supergiant Games – Alright, so, I wasn't going to get through this list without a giant middle finger to the ghost of Roger "video games can never be art" Ebert. Bastion is an incredible work of genius on several fronts. The gameplay, though simple, is masterfully designed, with just enough variety and challenge to keep interest while also being simple enough to pick up and play without any prior knowledge. It's full of brilliant little touches, like the "shrine" that lets you control the difficulty to keep it challenging while also rewarding you for the extra challenge. Very satisfying. The visual style is top-notch; it's cartoony, but it's cohesively and comprehensively designed to take advantage of its style to consistently visually interesting. The music is fantastic, and complements the visual design. And the narration and story, though fairly short and simple, has enough twists and turns, comedy and tragedy, and social commentary (even more relevant in Trump's America than when it was released, given the symbolism of the Wall in the game) to be very compelling. (If you played this game and didn't cry at the end of the last level, then you're not human.) And above all, all of the elements complement each other, creating a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

    "Planescape: Torment" by Black Isle Studios – Well, while I'm on the subject of video games as art, might as well put another one on the list. Unlike Bastion, this one is not so much a cohesive whole made of complementary parts; the gameplay is often clunky, the visual style is somewhat drab, and the music is forgettable. This one makes the list solely because of the writing. The story is about a man who has lost his memory and his mortality, who wakes up on a slab in a mortuary, evidently unable to die but also unable to remember how he got there, with his only hints being the tattoos that his past self had put on his back as a guide. As he follows the clues, the Nameless One seeks to find out why it is that he cannot die, discovers dire consequences to his condition, and is haunted by the legacy of the past versions of himself that he cannot remember. The minor characters he meets briefly on his quest are more interesting and complex than most main characters, and the major characters are entire stories unto themselves. It is a story about tragedy and regret (hence the title, "Torment"), belief and hope, and the answer to one of the most puzzling questions ever asked: "What can change the nature of a man?"

  14. Claire Savage says:

    I really like this idea! Also, I think it would be good to put a suicide warning before this video

  15. Amanda Michael says:

    I loved April Richardson's stand up and now I love her even more for this! Great video!

  16. Drunk in a Dark Room says:


  17. lorenabpv says:

    i love this series! and what she said about the suicide image was very interesting (although I echo HappyIntroVert's comment, I could have used a TW) and thoughtful.

    what a great way to get a glimpse from someone else's life, through their favorite works of art.

  18. Darcy Hagood says:

    I find it strange and concerning that you address the problematic nature of photographing 'beautiful' suicide but not the appropriative issues concerning the artist who goes by 'Siouxsie Sioux'. Many Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota peoples take offense to the term Sioux and it's use here as a gimmicky identifier detached almost completely from it's history with Indigenous peoples.

  19. jaime says:

    I loved this!

  20. Carolina Gomez says:

    More like this please!

  21. Loba Étoile says:

    Thank you, Sarah. 😊

  22. Calluna.Vulgaris says:

    I could talk to here for HOURS about the meaning of art and how people view it. Wow! (I could also talk about music too; I mean The Smiths, I saw David Bowie in one of those posters, Bob Dylan… lol)

  23. AlleyBetwixt says:

    Ooo! Fantastic episode. April is awesome and her choices are eclectic and thought-provoking. Now I'm pondering what my 5 favorite works would be!

  24. gerald miller says:

    How is an album a work of art?

  25. Arjuna Yelanjian says:

    This is a crazy good video!!!!

  26. Jeanine McCarthy says:

    Ah! I said this last time — I love, love, love this format! I had only a vague idea of April's work before watching this (soon to be remedied!), but I was still totally engaged in what she had to say because she's interesting, the stuff she's into is interesting, and — most importantly — she's enthusiastic about the art she loves! As a fangirl before fangirls were a thing, I adore hearing people gush about the stuff they're into. Five Favorite Works of Art is a beautifully produced and thoughtful showcase for enthusiastic fans of art.

  27. CrumpArt says:

    I love Workers Playtime so much. It somehow manages to feel fresh every time I listen to it (which is often).

  28. Peggy H says:

    Love this & April!

  29. Jessica Smith says:

    This was so interesting! I had never heard of any of the works/people she discussed, so I feel enriched by this segment.

  30. Jason Patterson says:

    April is fiercely intelegent, and relentlessly funny, I love her self deprecating sense of humor. You owe it to yourself to catch her on the Dana Gould hour podcast. April and Dana are just like peas and carrots, if peas and carrots took anti depressants…

  31. Bettie Turner says:

    I love this idea so much, so much that I added my 5 five faves to my list journal (always need subjects for that journal). I love that she mentioned the zines,and Siouxie Sioux which I grew up with, ! 🙂

  32. Trainy says:

    I love how she lives alone and doesn't apologize for it. If you're happier being alone, there's no shame in that.

  33. Trey says:

    I love this idea. I want to hear more, top 5 lists from all sorts of people. I would love some from Sarah too!

  34. BittenUsagi says:

    Love this video! Please do more like it. Fascinating and inspiring. 💖🎨🎧🎭

  35. JULIUSINROOM says:

    she is a cool dude I like her specially in Rock Solid podcast. Cool dude Co host Ever!

  36. Steven Venn says:

    Love April and love this interview! Coolest lady in comedy, right up there with Maria Bamford and Jen Kirkman.

  37. Tudza White says:

    Little work you could make that a Buckaroo Banzai tattoo

  38. Ayla Aron says:

    I once walked in to an anarchist bookshop in Amsterdam and fell madly in love with zines. Does anyone know a good digital source for contemporary zines?!

  39. EliOceans says:

    This is my favorite series on the show, definitely need more!

  40. muppokat says:

    these r my fave vids tbh

  41. Chris Helms says:

    Thanks April Richardson and Sarah! That was such a good video. I was lucky enough to see April on stage opening for Chris Hardwick in Bloomington a couple years ago.

    Check her out on social media on Twitter @Apey

  42. Seth Apex says:

    Capitalism is not killing music. It is through capitalism that audiences larger than many small countries are able to find the music and artists they love, listen to it on demand, and compensate the artist in a manner far more efficient than was ever possible before. If you're complaining that your music isn't being picked up by a label, it's becasue you either haven't found the right label or aren't good enough for a consumer to be willing to pay for your music. Your music, like any other good, is not inherently economically valuable, no matter how poetic you think it is. If someone likes it, they will pay you for it. If a record label sees a large enough demand for it, they will help to spread it as wide as possible for a cut of the sales. If you don't like that you can be an indie artist and try to sell it on your own.

  43. Kip Andrew says:

    I love this series of videos of 'five favorite works of art' please keep doing it!

  44. Dirk Visagie says:

    please do one of these with Nerdwriter 1, would love to see what art he likes

  45. kaysyconundrum says:

    Watched the other one first and this one has diverse artists! OMG I'm in LOVE <3

  46. Joel Wetzel says:

    I'm a 51 year old single Texan and have been in love with April for years so it breaks my heart she's lonely. Comedians are pretty much the only people I trust and the fact that she's beautiful, intelligent, outspoken, witty, funny, sexy, and strong makes her the one I'd pursue before any other. I hope you read this, April.

  47. firewordsparkler says:

    Loved this! This is one of my favorite series on the internet.

  48. Tia says:

    what a lovely list! would love to see her again on the channel <3

  49. Shaikha says:

    More of April Richardson on The Art Assignment PLEASE!

  50. Catch My Drift says:

    Loved this! I had never heard of April Richardson, I'm happy this is no longer the case.
    Makes me wonder – what are my 5 favourite works of art? Definitely something worth reflecting on.

  51. Megan O'Connor says:

    Can I watch 900000 more hours? April is such a doll and she cracks me up!

  52. Theodore Belmont says:

    April is so beautiful

  53. Floodlime says:

    Love April!

  54. Art says:

    At 4:08 why is there an observation deck with out a fence around it

  55. wellergurl says:


  56. Justice Constantine says:

    Please do another video with April Richardson but as she suggested in the end "500,000 more" .

  57. Bethanie Petitpas says:

    1988 Hairspray. Amen.

  58. Faithful Chica says:

    Yes there is an answer: Yes it's exploitative. No it should not be art. Morally it is wrong.

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