Special Programs

All events and programs are held virtually, due to COVID-19. 

Upcoming programs:

Old print of several photos of African American life

Toward an African Methodist Episcopal Aesthetic Idyll: Art and Images at Wilberforce University, 1863­–1914 

Tuesday, Oct. 5, 5:00 p.m. 
Online via Zoom 
Closed captioning provided

Presented by Melanee Harvey, assistant professor & coordinator of art history at Howard University. Martha S. Jones, the Society of Black Alumni Presidential professor, professor of history, and a professor at the SNF Agora Institute at The Johns Hopkins University will moderate the Q & A.

As the first independent African American religious denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church maintains a historic position as one of the oldest surviving African American institutions. Through the use and circulation of visual culture, the AME denomination established a cultural base of Black Formalist sensibilities rooted in uplift and cultural definition.

This presentation will examine how art and strategies of visual representation were used to present Wilberforce University, one of the nation’s first historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU), as an aesthetic idyll shaped by Bishop Daniel Payne and other AME bishops of the late nineteenth century. Denominational leadership marshalled images of the AME’s flagship educational institution as evidence of racial advancement. Specifically, photographs displayed at national expositions and published in the Christian Recorder promoted their message. This analysis will also consider the role of art collections and art education at Wilberforce University.  

This program is part of the Greenberg Steinhauser Forum in American Portraiture Conversation Series sponsored by Dan Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser and is hosted by PORTAL, the Portrait Gallery’s Scholarly Center. 

Free—Registration required.

woman wrapping her head in a white bandage
Still from Howardena Pindell, Free, White and 21, 1980. Single-channel video (color, sound), 12:15 min. Collection National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Garth Greenan. Courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York. © Howardena Pindell.

 

Howardena Pindell: On the Performance of Autobiography

Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. (ET)
Online via Zoom

Over the course of nearly six decades, groundbreaking multidisciplinary artist Howardena Pindell has radically expanded the medium of painting and transformed the language of abstraction. Join us for a special screening of Pindell's iconic video Free, White and 21, the first of only three videos in the artist’s body of work.

After the screening, Pindell will be in conversation with Naomi Beckwith, Deputy Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Valerie Cassel Oliver, Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and NPG curator Charlotte Ickes.

This program is part of  Viewfinder: Women’s Film and Video from the Smithsonian, a monthly virtual film screening and conversation series sponsored by the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, Because of Her Story. This second half of the series showcases creative responses to the external forces that shape the way we move through and experience the world. Visit WomensHistory.si.edu for more information about upcoming events in this screening series.

Free – Registration required

print of the 15th amendment

In Dialogue: Smithsonian Objects and Social Justice

Thursday, Oct. 14, 5 p.m.
Online via Zoom

Heighten your civic awareness through conversations about art, history and material culture. Each month, educators from the National Portrait Gallery will partner with colleagues from across the Smithsonian to discuss how historical objects from their respective collections speak to today’s social justice issues.

How can we work together to protect voting rights? Together with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, we will explore the legislative and cultural history of voting rights from the Reconstruction Era to the present. Our conversation will center on a popular print from 1870 commemorating the Fifteenth Amendment and the pen President Lyndon B. Johnson used to sign the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law. 

Free—Registration required

detail of a photo of a woman in studded costume

Wind Down Wednesday: Bidi Bidi Bom Bom

Wednesday, Oct. 20, 5 p.m.
Instagram Live @smithsonianNPG

Join the National Portrait Gallery for a conversation about Tejana icon Selena and the power of representation, image and fashion. Learn to make an “Amor Prohibido” cocktail or mocktail and explore the ways Selena created an image that continues to inspire, empower and electrify her fans. Nos sentimos muy… excited!

ckolorful death mask and flowers for the holiday

Día de los Muertos at the National Portrait Gallery

Monday, Nov. 1, 6:30­–8:30 pm

Celebrate el Día de los Muertos with an outdoor festival of music and art at the National Portrait Gallery. Join us in creating a community altar on the museum’s steps while discovering more about the history and mythology behind el Día de los Muertos. Then, at dusk, artists MasPaz and Guache will project a two-hour live digital painting, video and sound performance onto the G Street and 9th Street façades of the museum’s building to honor D.C.’s Latinx community.

 

woman sitting amidst artful trees

In Dialogue: Smithsonian Objects and Social Justice

Tuesday, Nov. 4, 5 p.m.
Online via Zoom

Heighten your civic awareness through conversations about art, history and material culture. Each month, educators from the National Portrait Gallery will partner with colleagues from across the Smithsonian to discuss how historical objects from their respective collections speak to today’s social justice issues.

How can portraits reveal complex histories? Together with our co-hosts from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, we will explore multiple perspectives on national identity and belonging through portraits of Ruth Asawa and Hung Liu and a painting by Roger Shimomura.

Free—Registration required.

 

Oak Flat book cover

Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West with author Lauren Redniss

Tuesday, Nov. 16, 5 p.m. 
Online via Zoom 
Closed captioning provided 

Presented by Lauren Redniss, artist, author, MacArthur fellow, and associate professor at the Parsons School of Design. Sharyl Pahe-Short, visitor services manager at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, will moderate the Q & A. 

Oak Flat, an oasis in the Arizona desert, is a holy place, an ancient burial ground and a religious site where Apache girls celebrate the coming-of-age ritual known as the Sunrise Ceremony. In 1995, the largest known, untapped copper reserve in North America was discovered nearby. A decade later, the U.S. Congress passed a law transferring the area to an international conglomerate, whose planned copper mine will wipe Oak Flat off the map—sending its natural springs, petroglyph-covered rocks, and old-growth trees tumbling into a void.  

In this presentation, Lauren Redniss will explore the ongoing Oak Flat controversy and examine its place in the history of Indigenous land expropriation in the United States. Additionally, she will discuss her approach to “visual nonfiction,” the role of portraiture in her work and the possibilities of unconventional storytelling forms. 

This program is part of the Greenberg Steinhauser Forum in American Portraiture Conversation Series sponsored by Dan Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser and is hosted by PORTAL, the Portrait Gallery’s Scholarly Center. 

Free—Registration required.

 

book jacket for Refugees

Art AfterWords: A Book Discussion

Tuesday, Nov. 16, 5:30­–7 p.m.
Online via Zoom

The National Portrait Gallery and the DC Public Library would like to invite you to a virtual conversation about culture, displacement and acceptance. Join us as we analyze the portrait “Resident Alien” by Hung Liu and discuss the book “The Refugees” by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Participants are encouraged to visit the exhibition “Hung Liu: Portraits of Promised Lands.”