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The Alper Initiative

Carolyn Alper

Photo by Jeff Watts

Thanks to a major gift from American University alumna and art advocate Carolyn Alper (BA studio art ’68), the Alper Initiative for Washington Art will open soon in the AU Museum at the Katzen Arts Center.

The gallery, in newly created space on the museum’s first floor, will display work by DC artists and feature a digital archive of Washington art. It will also sponsor lectures, films, social events, and other activities.

American University Museum Curator and Director Jack Rasmussen is putting the finishing touches on the initiative’s first exhibitions, which will explore art and community in Washington, DC.


January 23 – March 13, 2016: Circle of Friends

Coinciding with Renée Stout: Tales of the Conjure Woman in the AU Museum, Circle of Friends will feature the work of 16 female artists who formed Stout’s artistic cohort. The exhibition demonstrates how artists need the support of one another for their work to flourish.

“One of the themes of Circle of Friends is community. Artists find support groups wherever they live— groups that help them mature and survive as artists,” Rasmussen says. In this exhibition, Stout’s artist friends will share their memories of the DC art community through a series of interviews and lectures.


April 4 – Mary 24 : Twisted Teenage Plot

Coinciding with a retrospective of deceased DC artist and musician Kevin MacDonald at the AU Museum, the Alper Initiative will present Twisted Sister, an exhibit based on MacDonald's band of the same name.

The exhibition will also showcase visual artists who played in bands in Washington in the 70s and 80s, including Robin Rose, Joe White, Clark Vinson Fox (aka Michael Clark), Judith Watkins Tartt, JW Mahoney, Steve Ludlum, and Michael Reidy, along with sound recordings, posters, videos, and memorabilia.