woman standing in plaid suit

Dive Back into Cultured’s Top Ten Stories of 2021

woman standing in suite
Kwaidan Editions jacket and pants; vintage veil from Palace Costume. Photography by Daria Kobayashi Ritch. Styling by Tess Herbert. Makeup by Sandy Ganzer. Hair by Nikki Providence.

1. Meet the Anomaly That Is Phoebe Bridgers

Singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers is having a career-defining year. Her sophomore album Punisher was nominated for three Grammy Awards in March and received far-reaching praise. Who would guess it was inspired by everyday monotony? “Bridgers’s music is just as likely to appear in year-end “best of” lists as depression TikToks, but, more than anything, Punisher zeroes in on the slow churn of living,” writes Cassandra Gillig.

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Tariku Shiferaw. Photography by Christopher Garcia Valle. ©Tariku Shiferaw. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., New York.

2. Five Contemporary Black Abstract Artists to Know

“What makes art “Black” and how do viewers perceive or value work that is unidentifiable by race?” asks Kendra Walker. “Against this backdrop, some of the most compelling abstract painting today is coming from Black artists.” Meet the next generation of abstract painters on our radar.

woman in front of cloth
Taraji P. Henson wears a Fendi dress. Photography and set design by Genevieve Gaignard. Sets by Diedrick Brackens and Genevieve Gaignard. Creative direction and styling by Jason Bolden. Hair by Tym Wallace. Makeup by Ashunta Sheriff. Nails by Taraji P. Henson.

3. Actor and Entrepreneur Taraji P. Henson Talks Mental Health

Taraji P. Henson and Enuma Okoro discuss Henson’s recent overwhelming success, mental health, the “strong Black woman” trope and her respect for her industry predecessors. Writes Okoro, “This commitment to giving back and to working for Black women comes in part from Henson’s understanding of walking in the footsteps of those who came before.”

Sondra Perry stands in her Newark, New Jersey, storefront studio, which formerly was a hair salon. Photography by Aubrey Mayer.

4. These Young Artists Are Changing the Industry

Youth, like art, is a mindset, not an age. These young artistic talents cultivate authenticity and origin stories into their work in myriad ways.

Moe Harkless at home. Portrait by Cecile Boko.

5. Today’s Young Collectors Are More Invested Than Ever

The members of our 2021 Young Collectors List are curating thoughtfully across the world. We see a sense of hope and progress in their dedication to research, peer-centered investments, and socially-engaged dialogues. They are “ambitious in their intentions and deep-pocketed in resources, together the class of 2021 embody everything that works about the current patronage system, while leaving behind its more insidious malpractices.”       

Clockwise from left: Bronx Point by S9 Architecture, image courtesy of L+M & Type A Ibrahim Greenidge Anzilla R. Gilmore Daimian S. Hines Pascale Sablan Richie Hands Tiffany D. Brown, photo by Q11 Studio Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University by Michael Maltzan Architecture, project management by Anzilla R. Gilmore Renauld Deandre Mitchell, courtesy Moody Nolan Melanie Ray, courtesy Hord Coplan Macht. Graphic design by Katie Brown.

6. On Being Black in Architecture

While anti-racism statements spread across the country in the last year and a half, the reality is that only 2 percent of all licensed architects in the United States are Black. Fifteen practitioners shared their trials, successes and hopes for growth. Asks Elizabeth Fazzare: “In a systematically racist society, how can the industry move toward true equity? How does architecture’s lack of diversity affect the professional successes or challenges of Black architects?”

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Nas. Styling by April Roomet. Jacket by Nahmias. Photography by Raven B. Verona.

7. Why Nas Is One of Hip Hop’s Original Pioneers

Nas found creative renaissance in lockdown. He received his first Grammy in March for his album King’s Disease, the same week that his 1994 debut album Illmatic had been selected for preservation in the Library of Congress. “In a rational world, excellence is embraced. Greeted by smiles, praised with honest compliments and accolades, exceptional art has the ability to elevate life,” the feature reads. “For nearly three decades, Nas has made a habit of composing high-quality music.”

man in pool
Moses Sumney. Photography by Erik Carter. Styling by Karolyn Pho. Pants by LV x NBA Collection. Grooming by Annette Chaisson for Exclusive Artists using Koh Gen Do. Photo assistant Amanda Yanez. Styling assistant Kailee Takashima.

8. Moses Sumney on Sexuality, 2021 Mystery and Songwriting

Dear friends and musical peers Caroline Polachek and Moses Sumney chat about Sumney’s artistic expression as a soloist musician. Says Sumney, “That’s really important to me, to feel more like an architect or a director, and to be able to feel like every piece of the music is a reflection of me, whether or not I am the one playing it, and whether or not I am present as a vocalist or a storyteller in the explicit sense.”

3 people and dog
Danny DeVito, Gracie DeVito, Rhea Perlman and little Zorro at Gracie and Andy Giannakakis’s place in Mount Washington, Los Angeles. Photography by Gillian Garcia.

9. The Perlman DeVito Family Revels in Its Creative Cross-Pollination

The DeVito family has long been relevant in the world of show biz, but their daughter Gracie blossoms in the realm of fine art. The family discusses their creative processes that arose during the pandemic and last year’s curveballs. “There is a pleasing symmetry to Rhea and Danny passing on their artistic inclinations bidirectionally,” writes Shaw Bowman, “and it reveals the infectious joy they’ve found in their lives’ work, versus some kind of deliberate conditioning of their children to follow in their footsteps.”

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Comedian Megan Stalter traded the Midwest for summer all year around. Photography by Munachi Osegbu.

10. Megan Statler on Panera Bread and Pivoting

Megan Statler is the queen of quarantine comedy. After waking up and making Cameos for $45 a pop, she’d move on to emails, maybe record a cartoon voice or podcast and plan her latest video. Almost 200k Instagram followers later, she’s on her way. “Gazing at Megan Stalter’s Twitter banner, Panera Bread suddenly feels like the key to everything,” writes Alexandra Tatarsky.” The corporate American bakery occupies that same Megan Stalter sweet spot of delusional aspiration: a strip-mall chain pretending it’s a European cafe.”