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Museum | Alper Initiative for Washington Art

Performing the Border, June 17 through August 13, 2017; Alper Initiative for Washington Art

Thanks to a major gift from American University alumna and art advocate Carolyn Alper, the AU Museum at the Katzen Art Center has established the Alper Initiative for Washington Art.


Alper Initiative for Washington Art
June 17 - August 13, 2017

Curated by Megan Rook-Koepsel 

The Alper Initiative for Washington Art presents a group exhibition curated by Megan Rook-Koepsel, Performing the Border. The borders that separate people and things are constantly changing, and quite often completely arbitrary, yet the importance placed on them would seem to suggest otherwise. Featuring Washington artists Clay Dunklin, Amy Lin, Susana Raab, Jenny Wu, and Street Light Circus, Performing the Border explores the concept of borders and boundaries, both the ways we perform within them, and the way the border is often itself a performance.

The artist's featured in Performing the Border are:

Clay Dunklin, Amy Lin, Susana Raab, Jenny Wu, and the artist collective Street Light Circus, including Montana DeBor, Christian Kloc, Darren Rabinowitz and Dani Steuber.


Related Events

June 17, 6-9 pm: Opening Reception featuring circus vignettes by Street Light Circus.

July 27, 5:30-7 pm: Free Parking: Salon style conversation at the Alper with curator Megan Rook-Koepsel and the artists in Performing the Border


The Alper Initiative for Washington Art promotes an understanding and appreciation of the art and artists of the Washington Metropolitan Area. We provide and staff a dedicated space located within the American University Museum, to present exhibitions, programs, and resources for the study and encouragement of our creative community.

Longer Mission Statement

Alper At A Glance

  • 2,000 square foot space
  • 5 exhibitions of Washington art per year
  • 1 common gathering area and exhibition space
  • The ONLY museum space in DC dedicated to the display, research, and encouragement of the region's art and artistic community

Our presentation of the initiative mission and vision has generated supportive feedback from the community.

"I think there has always been a separation from the National Identity of Washington, DC and the Local Identity of DC. Partnering with the American University Museum helps to soften those boundaries and raise the level of critical attention towards local talent."

— Judy Byron, Local artist

“The Alper Initiative is in the process of revolutionizing the way that Washington, DC sees its visual artists; this is a game-changer for our area's cultural tapestry.”

— F. Lennox Campello, local artist and art critic

Letter from the Director

The Alper Initiative for Washington Art is the gift of Carolyn Small Alper, a Washington artist, AU alumna, and philanthropist. It provides the space and resources to fulfill one of the American University Museums’s primary objectives and meet one of the region’s greatest needs: to promote an understanding and appreciation of our region’s art and artists from our past, present, and future. It is an exhibition space and a place for study and research. But it is first of all a meeting place for people and ideas. Its most important contribution to the Washington region may well be the opportunities it provides for us to exchange perceptions and, perhaps, rewrite the history of Washington art.

The Initiative presents five exhibitions of regional artists each year, creates publications and programming to engage and build the audience for Washington art, and serves as a resource for its study and critical appreciation. Curators are solicited to propose appropriate exhibitions, and artists are invited to submit their work for consideration on our website.

The Initiative is a part of a thriving museum that for ten years has specialized in presenting Washington artists in the larger context of national and international contemporary art. Washington art is strong, intelligent, and relevant, and has earned a prominent place in contemporary cultural discourse. Thanks to the Alper Initiative for Washington Art, we have the means to present serious, focused exhibitions for all the world’s appreciation and enlightenment.

Jack Rasmussen

Director and Curator
American University Museum