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The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden has invited celebrated painter Jordan Casteel to participate in this year’s James T. Demetrion Lecture, the museum’s most distinguished lecture series. This year’s edition puts Casteel in conversation with Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu to discuss Casteel’s powerful portraits and the community engagement that shapes them. The free event will stream online Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. ET.
Casteel, the youngest participant in the Demetrion Lecture series to date, is best known for her monumental paintings of friends, family, neighbors and students, which open doors to communities and subjects who might not otherwise see themselves in these settings. Painted in a style that captures the sitters’ character while looking directly at the viewer, her work sheds light on stories of everyday people. Casteel’s explorations and observations of the human experience, especially the Black experience in America, connect her practice to the legacy of artists like Kerry James Marshall, Alice Neel and Faith Ringgold.
“We are excited to introduce artist Jordan Casteel to our prestigious Demetrion Lecture series,” Chiu said. “Our virtual platform allows for a discussion about the scope of Casteel’s career, highlighting her innovative practice while examining her practice with a global audience—one larger than we could welcome to the museum’s Ring Auditorium.”
Casteel is the recipient of several honors and solo exhibitions, including the esteemed artist-in-residence program at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2015–16) and a major survey exhibition at the New Museum in New York City, “Jordan Casteel: Within Reach,” which remains on view through Jan. 3, 2021. Casteel’s first public art commission currently stands as a monumental celebration of immigration on New York City’s High Line. In addition to these exhibitions, Casteel recently painted designer and activist Aurora James for American Vogue’s September issue, in honor of James’s 15 Percent Pledge, which challenges major retailers to reserve 15% of their shelf space for products made by Black-owned businesses.
The 2020 Demetrion lecture will be streamed online and made available on the museum’s website and YouTube. The event is free of charge, but advance registration is required. Named for the museum’s longest-serving director, James T. Demetrion, and made possible by the Friends of Jim and Barbara Demetrion Endowment Fund, this annual program has featured a number of thought leaders in the field, including artists Marilyn Minter, Ai Weiwei, Marina Abramović, Olafur Eliasson, Ellsworth Kelly, James Turrell, Doug Aitken, Jeff Koons and Claes Oldenburg among others.
About the Hirshhorn
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the national museum of modern and contemporary art and a leading voice for 21st-century art and culture. Part of the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn is located prominently on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Its holdings encompass one of the most important collections of postwar American and European art in the world. The Hirshhorn presents diverse exhibitions and offers an array of public programs on the art of our time—free to all. The Hirshhorn Museum’s outdoor sculpture garden is open daily 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. The museum and plaza are currently closed due to COVID-19. For more information, visit hirshhorn.si.edu. Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
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