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Sarah Urist Green in a video for The Art Assignment

You don’t need years of experience to produce art. Learn how to get creative with this accessible art educator.

In the Summer of 2020, when the world needed art and expression the most, Sarah Urist Green uploaded a new video to her popular YouTube channel The Art Assignment, announcing that she would be “slowing down” her content production on the platform. The channel, which featured art history, projects designed by contemporary artists and art-inspired trips and cooking, has since become inactive.

Despite this pause in YouTube output, Green continues to profoundly impact the art community.

Even after putting a freeze on her video uploading, the amiable art historian has gained thousands of new subscribers and views on her YouTube channel. This may be in part due to the success of Green’s highly rated book, “You Are an Artist,” which follows the same theme as The Art Assignment channel and acts as a continuation of her previous work.

On top of writing and promoting her book, Green has kept busy by creating art of her own and sharing it on her The Art Assignment Instagram page. Although the internet personality’s lack of video content may seemingly bode ill for The Art Assignment brand, the ever-pertinent nature of Green’s already posted content along with her brand’s continued social media presence go to show that the art historian’s contributions to the world of art education are far from over.

In Sarah Green’s most popular YouTube video, with over 2 million views, she sits in a chair directly facing her viewers as she clearly, concisely and informatively explains a stunt performed by the street artist Banksy in which the activist shredded his own art after auction. Green speaks dynamically about the incident while keeping her vocabulary accessible to the average listener. The video, titled “Behind the Banksy Stunt,” is educational yet casual.

This is what makes Green so special and keeps viewers circling back to old videos. The Art Assignment is a refreshing reprieve from educational art content that is often pretentiously packaged and hard to understand. Instead, Green, who formerly worked as a museum curator, teaches art for the masses.

In another Art Assignment upload, Green discusses the life and art of Andy Warhol “through the food he depicted as well as the food he actually ate.” Getting hands-on and a bit messy with a blender, the funny and relatable art educator creates and consumes a Warhol favorite: frozen hot chocolate. Through this use of food, Green finds the perfect medium to keep her audience engaged while maintaining her lighthearted approach to art history.

In addition to kindling art enthusiasts’ interest in history and notable art figures, Green also pairs with contemporary artists to assign her viewers an art project so that they can produce their own creative masterpieces.

On the art historian’s YouTube channel these art assignments have ranged from taking a photo of a reflection to creating an imaginary friend. The projects featured on The Art Assignment channel do not require advanced tools or knowledge. They simply request an open mind and a dash of imagination. Plus, it doesn’t matter that some of the projects are a few years old. They still spark the same sense of innovation that they did when they were first posted.

From the beginning of The Art Assignment, young children, teens and adults flocked to these art projects, posting their own attempts on social media to share with their peers. The assignments soon became so loved that Green made the decision to craft an entire book dedicated to the movement. Thus, in 2020, “You Are An Artist” was born.

A compilation of 50 do-it-yourself art endeavors, “You Are an Artist” is not broken apart by long, tedious chapters. Instead, the book gives a couple pages of background on some of today’s most thought-provoking artists before jumping into a “Your Turn” section, where Green transcribes artists’ assignments for their readers.

For one project, Green collected instructions from textile artist Fritz Haeg on how to make a rug out of old clothes. The technique provided is fairly simple and can be done at home. Not to mention, Green includes tips, cheats and variations — as she does with all assignments listed in her book — to make Haeg’s project all the more doable for art beginners.

Supplying interactive content is one of Green’s greatest strengths as an art educator, proving that she is not only a knowledgeable expert but also a fantastic teacher. As a member of the Green family’s content-creating universe, Green’s adept teaching style comes as no surprise.

The art historian is married to best-selling author John Green and is the sister-in-law of internet-famous scientist Hank Green. As such, Green is often cited as a source of inspiration and information in many of the Greens’ book and video undertakings — another way the art writer has continued to stay involved in art education outside of her YouTube channel.

In addition to making and aiding in the production of educational content, Green also enjoys making her own art. Most recently, the artist has crafted a series of 62 collage poems, 61 of which have been posted on The Art Assignment Instagram page. The sometimes wistful, other times hilarious poems were originally made “as perks for donors to the 2021 @projectforawesome.” Now, with just one post left before she completes sharing this latest project, Green is “perilously close to the end of [the] series,” leaving fans wondering what’s next for the internet’s favorite art educator.

Undoubtedly, Green will continue to create art-related content for any and all people interested in indulging their craving for creativity. Maybe the art historian will even come out with another YouTube video or two now that her poetry project is coming to a close. Whatever her next endeavor may be, it is sure to inspire both artistic invention and understanding. The art world highly anticipates Green’s next move.

Writer Profile

Lauren Koop

London School of Economics - Peking University
International Affairs

Hello all! My name is Lauren and I am a first year grad student at PKU. My interests include: books, art, culture, world happenings, lifestyle and language. So excited to share my writing with y’all!

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