Natl Museum of Amer History -- Event: Democracy Day: Panel 3: Storytelling and Connection:
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Description of Pictures: Storytelling and Connection
The power of storytelling and art as methods of engagement and connection in democratic culture
Storytelling and art are powerful tools to encourage civic action and strengthen democratic culture. Actor Alfre Woodard, artist Hank Willis Thomas, independent filmmaker Paul Wagner, and Melody Barnes, executive director of the University of Virginia's Karsh Institute of Democracy, come together to explore how art helps us engage with one another, and how storytelling can build connection.
* Melody Barnes, Executive Director, Karsh Institute of Democracy, University of Virginia
* Paul Wagner, Independent Filmmaker
* Hank Willis Thomas, Artist
* Alfre Woodard, Actor
This discussion is part of “Democracy Day: Art and Democracy in American History,” hosted by the National Museum of American History, the University of Virginia's Karsh Institute of Democracy, and the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Art in Embassies. Democracy Day events will take place throughout the afternoon of Sept. 19 and will feature exhibition tours by artists, conversations with scholars and artists about the relationship between art and democracy in America, and demonstrations and activities to engage museum visitors. The conversations over the course of the afternoon , including “Revolutionary Questions at 250" and “Artist Advocates for Democracy," will explore different ways that art informs and shapes democracy and democratic culture by helping audiences engage with one another, with shared values and principles, and with the world.
Paul Wagner, Independent Filmmaker
Wagner is an Academy Award and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, whose films have premiered at the Sundance, Toronto, Telluride and Rotterdam film festivals and been broadcast widely on PBS. His feature documentaries include Miles of Smiles/Years of Struggle, about the Pullman porters who formed America’s first black labor union and Out of Ireland, the history of Irish emigration to America, featuring Liam Neeson and Gabriel Byrne. More recent documentaries include Good Work: Masters of the Building Arts, a co-production with the Smithsonian Institution, and Black in Blue, about the African American football players who broke the color line in the Southeastern Conference in the 1960s. Wagner’s dramatic feature Windhorse, released by New Yorker Films, was filmed secretly in China and Nepal and won Best American Feature and Best Director at the Santa Barbara film festival. American Cinematographer magazine recently recognized Windhorse as the first digital feature film. Wagner is currently producing a documentary about the life and art of Georgia O’Keeffe. He also teaches screenwriting and film directing at the University of Virginia.
Hank Willis Thomas, Artist
Hank Willis Thomas (b. 1976, Plainfield, New Jersey) is a conceptual artist who focuses on themes of perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture. His practice is often collaborative and engaged in public art. Thomas’s The Embrace, 2022 is a 19-ton monument to Civil Rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King on Boston Common. He co-founded the artist collective For Freedoms with artists Eric Gottesman, Michelle Woo and Wyatt Gallery in 2016 as a platform for creative civic engagement in the U.S. Through Thomas, For Freedoms donated a set of four impactful photographs to Art in Embassies’ Democracy Collection traveling exhibition and collection, on display at the Acropolis Museum, Athens Greece; Xippas Gallery, Geneva, Switzerland; Universidade Católica Portuguesa (UCP), Lisbon, Portugal; and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C. Referencing American artist Norman Rockwell’s paintings of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms (1941) These newly realized 2018 photographs—Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear—were created by Thomas, Emily Shur, Gottesman, and Wyatt Gallery to highlight a much more inclusive America than what was originally styled in Rockwell’s iconic scenes. His artwork has been featured in numerous Art in Embassies exhibitions, and has participated in artist panel discussions in Lisbon, Portugal, and in Pretoria, Johannesburg, and Cape Town, South Africa.
Alfre Woodard, Actor
Woodard received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Miniseries/Movie, an Emmy Award for Best Actress, as well as ACE and Screen Actors Guild Awards for Best Actress for her performance in the 1997 HBO original movie, Miss Evers' Boys. A three-time Emmy Award winner, Woodard was first honored in 1984 for her performance as the grieving mother of a child killed by a police officer on the acclaimed NBC series, Hill Street Blues, and later for her portrayal of a rape victim on the pilot of L.A. Law. Her starring performance in the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of August Wilson's play, The Piano Lesson, was rewarded with a Best Actress Award from the Screen Actors Guild and an Emmy Award nomination. Her portrayal of Winnie Mandela in HBO's Mandela, starring Danny Glover, earned her a second ACE Award. Woodard's many feature film credits include Star Trek: First Contact; Heart and Souls; the thriller Primal Fear opposite Richard Gere; the ensemble film How to Make An American Quilt; Spike Lee's family drama, Crooklyn; Dr. Maya Angelou's Down in the Delta starring Wesley Snipes; and Passionfish, for which she received a 1998 Golden Globe Nomination for Best Actress. In 1984, she received an Academy Award nomination for her performance in Martin Ritt's Cross Creek. Most recently, Woodard worked with Morgan Freeman in Bopha!, his international directorial debut, and wrapped director Lawrence Kasden's Mumford.
Melody Barnes, Executive Director, Karsh Institute of Democracy
As the founding executive director of the University of Virginia's Karsh Institute of Democracy, Barnes guides the organization on an action-oriented path to realizing democracy in principle and practice. Barnes is a dedicated public servant with more than 25 years of experience crafting public policy. She served in the administration of President Barack Obama as assistant to the president and director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. Prior to her work in the Obama Administration, Barnes was executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress and chief counsel to the late Senator Ted Kennedy on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Barnes started her career in New York as an associate at Shearman & Sterling. In addition to her role at the Karsh Institute, Barnes is the J. Wilson Newman Professor of Governance at UVA’s Miller Center of Public Affairs, a distinguished fellow at UVA’s School of Law, and co-founder of the domestic-policy strategy firm MB2 Solutions.
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DEMP3_230919_003.JPG: Robert Herzog (left)
DEMP3_230919_018.JPG: (left to right) Melody Barnes, Alfre Woodard, Paul Wagner, Hank Willis Thomas
DEMP3_230919_027.JPG: Hank Willis Thomas
DEMP3_230919_030.JPG: Paul Wagner
DEMP3_230919_036.JPG: Alfre Woodard
DEMP3_230919_037.JPG: Alfre Woodard
DEMP3_230919_045.JPG: Melody Barnes
DEMP3_230919_173.JPG: Hank Willis Thomas
DEMP3_230919_469.JPG: Darren Pasha
DEMP3_230919_557.JPG: Cynthia Steele Vance
DEMP3_230919_602.JPG: Alfre Woodard, Darren Pasha
DEMP3_230919_606.JPG: Alfre Woodard, Darren Pasha
DEMP3_230919_615.JPG: Anthea M. Hartig (center)
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2023_DC_DemocracyP2A_230919 Natl Museum of Amer History -- Event: Democracy Day: Panel 2A: Artist Advocates for Democracy: 1 Art Diplomacy for Equality
Woodard, Alfre appears on:
2018_DC_Long_ConvoS2A_181207 Smithsonian -- Long Convo -- Session 2 (of 3) w/Rachel Goslins, David Rubenstein, Scott Bolton, Jessica O. Matthews, Roy Wood Jr., Mercedes Lopez-Morales, Bei Yang, Naomi Wadler, Alfre Woodard, Bruce Friedrich, Laura Esserman, Sasha Velour, and Malak Wazne @ Arts and Industries Bldg
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