Artist’s Choice: Sara Greenberger Rafferty
Oct 6, 2014

A group watches a video on a projector screen.

Families viewing Sara Greenberger Rafferty’s video, Mono, 2014. Photograph by Filip Wolak

As part of the Whitney’s Artist’s Choice workshop series, families joined 2014 Biennial artist, Sara Greenberger Rafferty for a private screening of her video Mono, 2014. 

A person in a suit screams as colored stripes are laid over the image.

Sara Greenberger Rafferty, still from Mono, 2014. Digital video, color, sound; 3:30 min. Collection of the artist; courtesy Rachel Uffner Gallery, New York. © Sara Greenberger Rafferty, 2014

In Rafferty’s video, actor Susie Sokol mimics the gestures and verbal mannerisms taken from monologues of three late-night comedy hosts: Johnny Carson, David Letterman, and Joan Rivers. In the performance, Sokol interacts with a sporadic laughter track and edited segments of each host’s monologue.

A normal outfit evolves into complex multi-media composition.

Sara Greenberger Rafferty, Untitled, 2013. Acrylic polymer and inkjet print on acetate, plexiglass, and hardware, 35 3/4 × 24 in. (90.8 × 61 cm), irregular. Private Collection; courtesy the artist. © Sara Greenberger Rafferty. Photograph by Andres Ramirez

Elements of Rafferty’s layered two dimensional works appear in the video as she projects a slide onto the screen, creating a translucent layer of color between the actress and the audience.

Children and parents raise their hands with questions in a circle around the artist.

Parents and their kids in a discussion with the artist Sara Greenberger Rafferty, May 2014. Photograph by Filip Wolak

Rafferty explained that she begins her work by creating a storyboard of images that map out the sequences of the video. She challenged families to create their own storyboarded performances that explored gesture as a mode of communication. Families brainstormed five different gestures which were captured by Rafferty using Polaroid cameras.

Children experiment with photographs, glue, and colored translucent paper.

Families create collaged storyboards, May 2014. Photograph by Filip Wolak

To construct their storyboards, families used a selection of translucent collage materials and comedic images provided by Rafferty. They layered colors and images over one another to create a scene for their gestural performances.

Two children getting help with scissors from a parent

A family works together to create their artwork, May 2014. Photograph by Filip Wolak

One family mapped out a joke in their storyboard involving two grapes. What did the green grape say to the purple grape? ‘BREATHE! Stupid! Breathe!’ They overlaid their photographs of the two grapes conversing with colored plastic to distinguish their different characters. The final image depicts a hungry child, played by their dad, who comes over to gobble up the grapes.

Check out our past Artist’s Choice Workshops or learn more about upcoming programs.

By Billie Rae Vinson, Coordinator of Family Programs