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AU in the Neighborhood Newsletter

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February 2016

Gift Funds Home for DC Art at AU Museum

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Thanks to a generous donation by American University alum Carolyn Alper, local art now has a home of its own at American University.

Alper’s gift to the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center funded the new Alper Initiative for Washington Art. It supports the creation of a space on the museum’s first floor for display of work by DC artists and a digital archive of Washington art. The initiative also sponsors lectures, films, and other events.

Alper, a native Washingtonian, is committed to preserving the heritage of local art and to supporting artists working currently in the region.

An artist herself, she studied painting under Morris Louis and Gene Davis, both from DC. That formative artistic experience, she says, made her fall in love with Washington arts. In 1971, she and three fellow students cofounded the Foundry Gallery, a cooperative art space that still showcases the work of new and emerging artists.

She envisions the Alper Initiative for Washington Art as a meeting space for members of DC’s thriving arts community. “I hope it will encourage Washington artists, and become a place where they can convene and talk. Art talk is about the most creative stuff in the world,” she said.

Jack Rasmussen, curator and director of the American University Museum, believes the Alper Initiative will bring some much needed attention to Washington art.

“It will allow us to have tightly focused exhibitions,” he said. “We want it to be the place you go to when you want to learn about your city and its history and what came before you as an artist – a place to understand and reevaluate your heritage. We are working very hard on building a great collection of Washington art, and we are bringing in curators to put together exhibitions that will be of interest to artists in the community.”

Though Washington has no shortage of cultural institutions, Alper believes the AU Museum is the perfect location for her initiative. “I think it’s the only place,” she said. “Where else would be more appropriate?”

Rasmussen agrees. “We are committed to our community, and I think that’s what’s made us a success,” he said. “When you come to the museum, you’re greeted by a member of the community. Our volunteers are members of the community – and in our programming, we always include Washington artists. This is something that no other museum does.”

For more information on the Alper Initiative for Washington Art, please visit


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Books That Shaped America Series Continues

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Join us for Books That Shaped America – conversations for the American University and D.C. communities about books that have helped shape American society. Each discussion starts with a focal text, but the conversations stretch beyond the pages of the books themselves. Each discussion is led by a faculty or staff member from AU. Attendees are encouraged – but not required – to have read the featured text. Admission is free for this series, and no RSVP is required to attend.

The Books That Shaped America series is co-sponsored by the American University Library and the Humanities Lab.

From childhood classics, to books you studied in high school, and those you continue to reread in adulthood, we explore familiar works that resonate with everyone.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

February 23

12 – 1 p.m.

Bender Library, Training & Events Rm. 115

In celebration of Black History Month, Theresa Runstedtler, Associate Professor, Department of History, will discuss The Autobiography of Malcolm X, a classic American autobiography that expressed for many African-Americans what the mainstream civil rights movement did not – their anger and frustration with the intractability of racial injustice.

Gone with the Wind

March 22

3 – 4 p.m.

Bender Library, Training & Events Rm. 115

Despina Kakoudaki, Associate Professor and Director, Humanities Lab, will discuss Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. The most popular romance novel of all time was the basis for the most popular movie of all time (based on today's dollars). Set in the South during the Civil War, the book won both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award.

The Snowy Day

April 5

12 – 1 p.m.

Bender Library, Training & Events Rm. 115

Alex Hodges, Curriculum Materials & Education Librarian, will discuss The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, the first full-color picture book with an African-American as the main character.

The Great Gatsby

April 19

1 – 2 p.m.

Bender Library, Training & Events Rm. 115

Marianne Noble, Associate Professor, Department of Literature, will discuss The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Once ranked by AU's faculty, staff, and students as their favorite book, the novel explores the themes of class, wealth, and social status. Fitzgerald takes a cynical look at the pursuit of wealth among a group of people for whom pleasure is the chief goal.

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Neighborhood “Dive-In” Movie March 12

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Mark your calendars now for Saturday, March 12 and plan to bring the whole family to campus for a “dive-in” screening of Muppet Treasure Island. The movie will be screened in the Reeves Aquatic Center swimming pool at 1:30 p.m. Open swim will take place from 1 – 4 p.m.

Free parking is available in the Bender Arena garage and all are welcome to attend.

Space is limited and an RSVP is required. To RSVP, please contact Andrew Huff, Director of Community Relations at Priority will be given to neighbors in the 20016 zip code.

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AU Athletics to Celebrate National Girls & Women in Sports Day on Feb. 6

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On Saturday, Feb. 6, the American University Department of Athletics and Recreation is proud to celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day during the women’s basketball game versus Lehigh University. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.

Following the game, each of AU’s seven varsity women’s teams – basketball, cross country, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, swimming and diving, and volleyball – along with the cheer and dance squads will lead skills clinics and sign autographs for kids of all ages in attendance on the floor of Bender Arena. The clinic is free for everyone with tickets to the game, and children are asked to wear athletic shoes.

Tickets may be purchased in advance online (click here) for just $3 by using the code “NGWSD16” at checkout. For more information, call (202) 885-TIXX.

Click here to watch a video from a recent National Girls and Women in Sports Day celebration at AU, featured on Eye on the Eagles, AU’s 30-minute TV show on Comcast Sports Net.

National Girls and Women in Sports Day is celebrated throughout the country with community-based events, award ceremonies, and activities honoring achievements and encouraging participation of girls and women in athletics.

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AU Swimmer Qualifies for 2016 Olympic Games

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Credit: The Eagle

American University student Caylee Watson will swim the 100-meter backstroke for the U.S. Virgin Islands at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this summer.

Competing for AU in early December, Watson touched the wall after her 100-meter backstroke race in 1:05.21 at the Navy Long Course Invitational, hitting a season best time and topping a 17-year-old school record in the process. On the basis of that performance and previous showings at World Championship events, including the 2015 Summer World Championships in Russia, the U.S. Virgin Islands native received a call from the president of the Swimming Federation in the U.S. Virgin Islands inviting her to join their Olympic roster.

The opportunity to compete at the Olympics represents the culmination of a journey Watson began as a 12-year-old swimmer in the Virgin Islands with a 100-yard freestyle race that ultimately brought her to American University six years later.

Twenty hours a week during the school year, Watson maintains a disciplined “eat, sleep, swim, class” schedule in which she has found success balancing her swimming commitments with her academic and extracurricular responsibilities. Her performance in and out of the pool helped her earn distinction on the Academic All-Patriot League Team, as Watson finished her fall semester with a 4.00 GPA. She credits her accomplishments at AU and her Olympic qualification to AU swimming head coach Mark Davin.

“Mark Davin has been my best coach, and he’s got lots of wisdom and experience, and he pushes me,” Watson said. “Coming to American has made all the difference. I remember freshman year, I was very nervous about coming here and swimming, but it’s turned out so well.”

Davin, who coached 1996 Olympian Casey Leger for the Atlanta summer games, said the credit belongs to his athlete. “Whatever we do, Caylee embraces all of it. She’s like a sponge that’s soaking up everything. If you just tell Caylee, ‘this is going to help you,’ she’s all about it, always. And it’s fun to be part of it. She likes to be with people who are having a lot of fun, working hard, racing well, being good teammates, doing well academically, and having a full happy life.”

Watson said the thought of competing at the Olympics – arguably the most prestigious swimming event in the world – keeps her motivated through long practices, and her hard work continues to pay off.

“I’ve definitely concentrated more on the backstroke side this year, and I’ve been focusing a lot on rotation and making sure I’m connected even on harder sets,” Watson said. “I know I’ve been a lot more confident this year. I’ve definitely been able to do sets that I was not able to even think about doing in the past.”

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Calendar of Events

Weekly Museum Tours

February 1 through March 11, 12:30 p.m.

Katzen Museum

Explore the galleries at the Katzen Museum each Friday afternoon with our knowledgeable volunteer docents. Guided tours highlight current exhibitions and cover a new subject every week. Free of charge to everyone.

Men's Basketball vs. College of the Holy Cross

February 1, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Bender Arena

Yoga In The Galleries

February 3, 10, 17, 24, 10 a.m.

Katzen Museum

Led by certified Kripalu Yoga teacher Eva Blutinger, this yoga class provides mental clarity and relaxation in the peaceful surroundings of art. Participants are required to bring mats. $10 per class and free for museum members. Cash, credit, or check accepted:

College Art Association’s MFA Annual Regional Exhibition: RBTL

February 3 – March 5

Katzen Arts Center, Rotunda Gallery

American University hosts the exhibition that will coincide with the 104th Annual Conference. RBTL (Read Between The Lines) includes artwork from MFA/MA candidates enrolled currently at universities in DC, DE, MD, VA, NJ, and PA. The distinguished jurors are Karyn Miller, Acting Executive Director at the Arlington Arts Center and Curlee Raven Holton, Executive Director at the David C. Driskill Center. An opening reception will be held on Friday, Feb. 5 from 6 – 9 p.m.

Farmers’ Market

February 3, 10, 17, 24, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.


Men’s Basketball vs. Bucknell University

February 3, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Bender Arena

Women’s Basketball vs. Lehigh University

February 6, 2 – 4 p.m.

Bender Arena

Women’s Caucus for Art Reception and Panel Discussion

February 6, 6 – 7 p.m.

Katzen Museum

Join curator Leslie King-Hammond and select awardees from Impact! for a discussion about this profound exhibition that commemorates more than 37 years of Women’s Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement Award winners ranging from artists to art historians to curators.


February 7, 1 – 3 p.m.

Katzen Museum

Engage your children’s imagination and have them participate in a fun, creative art class inspired by one of our current exhibitions. Appropriate for ages 5-12. $10 per child. Advanced registration recommended:

Women’s Basketball vs. Boston University

February 10, 7 – 9 p.m.

Bender Arena

Big Love

Thursday, Feb. 11, 8 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 12, 8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 13, 2 and 8 p.m.

Greenberg Theatre

Just what is love? This question takes center stage in Charles Mee’s distinctly modern remake of Aeschylus’ The Suppliant Women. Fifty Greek brides seek refuge at a villa in Italy after fleeing home on the eve of their arranged marriages to fifty American grooms. When the brothers ambush the sisters by helicopter, mayhem ensues. Exploring themes of gender, marriage, justice, rights, and power and offering bold meditations on life, loss, and love, this highly theatrical drama brims with wit, music, and a keen sense of humanity. Tickets: $15 general admission, $10 students, seniors, and AU community. RSVP required:

Alan Mandel Birthday

February 12, 8 – 9:30 p.m.

Abramson Family Recital Hall

Alan Mandel’s compositions have been acclaimed for their brilliance, imagination, individual style, and dynamism. A prolific composer, Mandel has written a number of major orchestral compositions, more than twenty piano works, a number of choral works, and more than 130 songs in various languages. His music has been performed in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. As a pianist, Mandel has performed concerts in more than 50 countries. Additionally, Mandel has made 46 commercially released recordings and was the first pianist of note to include ragtime in classical music concerts. In this concert, Alan Mandel’s compositions will span 71 years.

Tickets: $15 adults, $10 AU community and seniors, $5 students. RSVP Required:

Wrestling vs. Bucknell University

February 13, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Bender Arena

Men’s Basketball vs. U.S. Military Academy

February 13, 1 – 3 p.m.

Bender Arena

Free Parking: Salon-style Conversation at the Alper

February 16, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

Katzen Museum

Free Parking is the first in a new series of salon-style early evening conversations in the Alper Initiative for Washington Art space. Artist Renée Stout and curator Leslie King-Hammond will open the discussion on female artists and the importance of their support groups. The salon is open to anyone interested in discussing the art and artists of the Washington Metropolitan area. Space is limited. RSVP required.

Men’s Basketball vs. Lafayette College

February 17, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Bender Arena

Wrestling vs. Ohio University

February 19, 7 – 9 p.m.

Bender Arena

Women’s Basketball vs. College of the Holy Cross

February 20, 2 – 4 p.m.

Bender Arena

Gallery Talk with Maggie Michael

February 20, 4 – 5 p.m.

Katzen Museum

Join Washington artist Maggie Michael and curator Sarah Newman for a discussion on A Phrase Hung in Midair As If Frozen, a mid-career survey of Michael’s work.

Men’s Basketball vs. United States Naval Academy

February 24, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Bender Arena

Men’s Basketball vs. Loyola (MD) University

February 27, 12 – 2 p.m.

Bender Arena

Women’s Basketball vs. Loyola (MD) University

February 27, 4 – 6 p.m.

Bender Arena

Mainly Mozart: AU Chamber and Symphony Orchestras

February 27, 8 p.m.; February 28, 3 p.m.

Abramson Family Recital Hall

Featuring two orchestras in the same concert, the AU Chamber and Symphony Orchestras will be joined by music faculty members, Teri Lazar and Osman Kivrak, to play Mozart's masterpiece, Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola. Yaniv Dinur, director. Tickets: $10 regular admission, $5 students, seniors, and AU community. RSVP Required:

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