The U.S. Department of State’s Office of Art in Embassies (AIE) continues to commemorate its 60th anniversary through a series of upcoming events as part of the office’s Democracy Collection programming.
Renowned artist and former State Department Medal of Arts awardee Jenny Holzer will illuminate the National Mall with her latest light projection artwork, titled THE PEOPLE.
THE PEOPLE will be on view simultaneously on the façades of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH) and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden facing the National Mall. The artwork will be visible from dusk until 11:00 p.m. for five nights beginning September 17, displaying quotations spanning history that extoll the beauty of democracy.
The celebration continues on September 19 with “Democracy Day: Art and Democracy in American History.” The day kicks off with the opening of AIE’s traveling exhibition, “A More Perfect Union: American Artists and the Currents of Our Time,” at the National Museum of American History. A remarkable collaboration between AIE, the University of Virginia’s Karsh Institute of Democracy, and NMAH, Democracy Day will feature distinguished artists who will participate in artist talks and panel discussions at the museum’s Warner Bros. Theater.
From 1:00 – 2:00 p.m., a panel discussion titled “ ” will examine how the United States has inspired the world with ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence and how those ideals have spurred change, resistance, new definitions, and shifting directions across 250 years.
Following the panel, AIE presents “ ”— two ambassador-led discussions with artists who participated in Art in Embassies’ cultural programming for democracy this year. The talks will take place from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. The first artist talk, “Art Diplomacy for Equality,” will be led by Ambassador Randi Charno Levine in conversation with Sanford Biggers, Deborah Kass, Hank Willis Thomas, and Deborah Willis. The second artist talk, “Arts and Human Rights,” will center around art advocacy, featuring a discussion between Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council Ambassador Michèle Taylor, Ambassador Chantale Wong, and artist Alexis Rockman.
Following the artist talks, the University of Virginia’s Karsh Institute of Democracy will host a panel conversation from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. on the power of art and storytelling as tools to strengthen democratic culture. The event, “ ,” will feature actor Alfre Woodard, artist Hank Willis Thomas, independent filmmaker Paul Wagner, and Karsh Institute Executive Director Melody Barnes.
The opening day at NMAH concludes with an artist-filled 60th anniversary celebration dinner for invited guests with the support of national cultural leaders, corporations, and a bipartisan congressional committee co-chaired by Representatives Michael McCaul and Gregory Meeks.
In addition to artist-led tours and panel discussions exploring the interplay of art and democracy, attendees can participate in interactive activities reflecting on U.S. civic life.
THE PEOPLE and Democracy Day are made possible through the generous support of the Ford Foundation, The Boeing Company, the Doris Duke Foundation, and numerous philanthropists and collectors committed to these endeavors.
The Office of Art in Embassies, established in 1963, plays a crucial role in U.S. public diplomacy, connecting nations through curated exhibitions. It showcases the innovation and cultural prowess of the United States and fosters cross-cultural connections.
Press inquiries can be sent to Megan Beyer at BeyerMC@state.gov.