The 100 Most Influential People of 2021
Courtesy Mark Bradford/Hauser & Wirth/Brandon Hicks
By Anita Hill
September 15, 2021 7:15 AM EDT

For Mark Bradford, no concept is too large or too small, and no challenge is too complex or too mundane. For Mark, no one is invisible. As his friend, fellow seeker and fan, I’m grateful that Mark sees a world filled with thorny problems to be solved and endless ideas to be explored in his work.

Mark’s awe-inspiring talent is an extension of the warm, caring person that he is. Through abstract art, Mark has mapped out devastation that crises, including the AIDS epidemic, Hurricane Katrina and the global housing-market collapse, have caused marginalized communities and the people who live in them. He is purposeful in how he dissects racism, homophobia, sexism and poverty. In his philanthropy, he is similarly deliberate, developing innovative programs to support foster youth and bringing art to galleries in underserved neighborhoods.

In the early days of the pandemic, Mark set out to find indicators of COVID-19’s impending impact on low-income communities. While in quarantine, he created paintings that convey the isolation, violence, struggles and resilience that marked our time apart. Mark’s work gives me hope that the challenges we’ve faced will help to connect us. Though future disasters may seem inevitable, Mark’s art has shown us how we might avoid them, if only we are brave enough to see.

Hill is a lawyer, professor at Brandeis University and author, most recently of the forthcoming book Believing

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