You are here: American University AU Arts

AU Arts

A home for the visual and performing arts at American University.

AU Arts

The arts have a prominent role at American University. Rotating exhibitions at the AU Museum in the state-of-the-art Katzen Arts Center emphasize regional, national, and international contemporary art. The Department of Performing Arts, comprised of Arts Management, Audio Technology, Dance, Music, and Theatre/Musical Theatre, provides dynamic, connected, expressive, and fulfilling experiences for all of our majors, minors, and participating students. The Department of Art encompasses Studio Art, Art History, Photography, and Graphic Design.

To stay up-to-date on performances, exhibitions, and events, join the AU Arts mailing list and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Questions? Call 202-885-ARTS or email us.

Event Spotlight: Art All NightSaturday, September 30

Come see American University's visual and performing arts in action as part of Tenleytown Main Street's Art All Night

Notice: The Consequence of Division event on the site of Elyn Zimmerman's Sudama has been postponed until further notice.

  • 6-10 p.m. Visit the AU Museum at the Katzen Arts Center after dark to explore five new exhibitions.
  • 7-8 p.m. See AU's student Jazz Combo perform in the AU Museum!
  • 7-10 p.m. Meet AU’s studio art MFA artists during open studios and see their work and explore the Group 93 exhibition on view in the Katzen Rotunda.
  • Come early for the keynote address in the 2023 Feminist Art History Conference, Nikki Greene’s “Rest: A Pedagogy of Art and Care” at 4 p.m. in the Katzen Arts Center Recital Hall. Learn more about the conference ($75 general public/$25 for just the keynote, free for AU students, faculty, and staff.) 

Parking is free at the Katzen Arts Center on weekends, and all events are free.

Plus: Head into Tenleytown to see our Singer-Songwriters' Hub perform at Guapo's (7:15–8:15 p.m) and our student acapella group Pitches Be Trippin' in Jackson-Reed High School's gym (7:30-8 p.m. and 8:30-9 p.m.)!

AU Arts Events

Two conference attendees

The 2023 Feminist Art History Conference
September 29–October 1 | Online Panels & In-Person at the Katzen Arts Center/Livestreamed Keynotes

An international conference advancing feminist art, artists, methods, and research from American University's Art History program. Established in 2010 to celebrate and build on the feminist art-historical scholarship and pedagogy of Professors Emeriti Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard, the Feminist Art History Conference is currently in its eighth iteration.

Full conference registration ($75 General Public/$30 Student) includes all panels and panel Q&As, both Keynote speeches, and a curator-led tour of “Making Her Mark: A History of Women Artists in Europe, 1400-1800 at the Baltimore Museum of Art (optional). 

Conference Tickets

See the full museum events calendar.

Steven Cushner, Tides, 2018. Acrylic on canvas, 110 x 132 inches. Courtesy of Hemphill Artworks.Gallery Talk: Cushner
October 7, 2-3 p.m. | Cushner

Art from an architectural angle! Meet artist Steven Cushner at one of the largest exhibitions of his work to date. Architect David Jameson has followed and championed Cushner for over 25 years. Join us as we learn more about Cushner’s work and explore the dynamic between contemporary architecture and the placement of art within that architecture.

Speaker: Steve Cushner, Artist
Speaker: David Jameson, Architect

Learn More: 10/7 Gallery Talk

A Ukrainian person lighting a cigaretteReading Performance: Ukrainian Poetry
October 21, 4-6 p.m. | Exhibit: Lost Europe: On the Edge of Memories

Join us for a literary performative event with poems and literature by Ukrainian writers. Conceived and organized by Christina Steibrecher-Pfandt (curator and former executive director of the viennacontemporary international art fair) and Denis Belkevich (an art manager who recently arrived from Ukraine). Included among the authors are Taras Shevchenko, 1814-1861; Ivan Franko, 1856-1916; Lesya Ukrainka, 1871-1913; Mykola Khvylovy, 1893-1933; Lina Kostenko, 1930; Vasyl Stus, 1938-1985; Serhiy Zhadan, 1974; Oleg Teplykh, 1971; and others. Reading of Ukrainian poems translated into English will be done by variety of participants including locally based curators, artists, and professionals from universities and their students.

Reader: Leeya Mehta, Interim Director, The Alan Cheuse International Writer’s Center, George Mason University
Reader: Irina Denischenko, Assistant Professor, Department of Slavic Languages, Georgetown University; Assistant Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Georgetown University
Reader: Aneta Georgievska-Shine, Senior Lecturer, Department of Art History at the University of Maryland  …and others.

Learn More: Poetry Reading

Rachel Rotenberg

Gallery Talk: Rachel Rotenberg
October 22, 5-6 p.m. | Exhibit: Rachel Rotenberg

Rachel Rotenberg, an artist with roots in Baltimore who is currently living in Israel, creates abstract wood sculptures that range in scale from monumental to intimate. Several works in her exhibition are the most ambitious of her 40-plus year career. Learn how she derives inspiration by the way things touch, pull, engage, and hold (inside and outside) as well as how creating these forms in relative obscurity has allowed her artwork to develop independently and free from outside influences.

Speaker: Rachel Rotenberg, Artist 
Moderator: Jane Livingston, Curator 

Learn More: 10/22 Gallery Talk

Steven Cushner, Tides, 2018. Acrylic on canvas, 110 x 132 inches. Courtesy of Hemphill Artworks.Fall Exhibits at the AU MuseumSeptember 9-December 10 | Wednesday–Sunday, 11:00–4:00

  • Cushner
    Steven Cushner

  • Lost Europe: On the Edge of Memories

    Nature’s Tapestry
    Bernis von zur Muehlen, artist

    Rachel Rotenberg

    Franklin White: An American in Venezuela

  • Through October 15 only:

  • Song of Songs: Fruitful Relationships
    Lillian Klein Abensohn

Learn more about the fall exhibitions.

Dance promo

From the AU Department of Performing Arts.

Discounted package tickets for Allison Grant's Senior Dance Capstone + Fall Dance Concert on November 18 are available. Free for AU students with ID, $10 for alumni, staff, faculty, children (under 18), and senior citizens (55 and older), $15 general public.

Fall Dance Concert

Department of Performing Arts
Erin Foreman-Murray, artistic director
November 17, 7:30 p.m.
November 18, 3 p.m.
Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre
4200 Wisconsin Ave. NW Washington, DC 20016
Tickets: Free for AU students with ID, $10 for alumni, staff, faculty, children (under 18), and senior citizens (55 and older), $15 general public.

The Fall Dance Concert is a mainstage event from the AU Dance Program featuring new work by guest artist Sarah Beth Oppenheim and selected student choreographers. Oppenheim brought Hardware to our virtual stage in 2021, and returns now to create a new work with AU dancers for the Greenberg stage. Her work will be shown alongside six student-choreographed, faculty-mentored protects, created this fall in our Choreographic Laboratory. Join us as we welcome fresh choreographic voices and new student performers to the AU stage.

Allison Grant's Senior Dance Capstone Performance

Department of Performing Arts
November 18, 1 p.m.
Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre
4200 Wisconsin Ave. NW Washington, DC 20016
Tickets: $5, Free for AU students with ID

Featuring a capstone choreographic research project by dance major Allison Grant.

Myrtle Katzen,


September 18–October 16
Katzen Rotunda

Ekphrasis in ancient Greece was the skill of describing a thing with vivid detail. Today, ekphrasis is a genre of poetry written in response to an artwork. 

Highlighting the exchange of thoughts and emotions shared through the practice of art, this exhibition pairs ekphrastic poems written in response to selected pieces in the show. The goal of these pairings is to open the door to deeper exploration of the work.

Viewers will be invited to leave their own responses in the exhibition log. 

Group 93 is pleased to collaborate with these 15 distinguished writers including three who have served as poet laureates: 

Ted Kooser, US Library of Congress, 2004-2006
Grace Cavilieri, State of Maryland, 2018-2023
Anne Becker, City of Takoma Park. 2007-2011

The group was formed in 1990 to explore the rigor of a critique method developed by artist, AU Professor Emeritus, Luciano Penay. The artists have diverse professional backgrounds and approaches to visual language. 

Artists: Joan Lewis Birnbaum, Lucy J Blankstein, Dorothy Fall, Michael Graham, Marjorie Hirano, Carol A Jason, Myrtle Katzen, Karen Kunc, Marc Pekala, Luciano Penay, Patricia Segnan, Romeo Segnan, Claudia Vess, Gail Watkins, and Ann Zahn.

Poets: Anne Becker, Barbara Berman, Grace Cavalieri, Kyle Dargan, Nicole Fall, Elise Fischer, Craig E Flaherty, Doug Hillmer, Frank S Joseph, Ted Kooser, Luciano Menetto, Seema Reza, Erich Schrader, Mike Wenthe, and Jacqueline R Werner. 

Image: Myrtle Katzen, After Noon, n.d. 3 x 4 ft. © Myrtle Katzen.

Music promo

Voices for Change: Music Transforming Conflict
October 29, 5-6:30 pm | Katzen Arts Center, Abramson Family Recital Hall, Free admission

Sponsored by the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) and the Aspen Institute 

Immerse yourself in the transformative power of music as we delve into its ability to heal wounds, bridge divides, and unite communities. This event is a unique opportunity to witness firsthand how music can break down barriers and ignite conversations that lead to lasting change.

The Jerusalem Youth Chorus is a choral and dialogue program for Palestinian and Israeli youth in Jerusalem. The evening will seek to explore the historic challenges faced by both Israeli and Palestinian communities and shed light on how music can build bridges that will ensure a brighter future for all. Performances by the Jerusalem Youth Chorus and AU Chamber Singers will be followed by a panel discussion.

CAS and the Aspen Institute are grateful to Bruce Levenson (WCL '76), for his generous support of this event.
Register: Voices for Change

From the AU Department of Performing Arts. Tickets: Free for AU students with ID, $10 for alumni, staff, faculty, children (under 18), and senior citizens (55 and older), $15 general public.

Choral Abstractions

American University Chamber Singers
Daniel Abraham, Director
November 4, 2023 at 7:30 p.m.
November 5, 2023 at 4:30 p.m.
American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, 3rd floor
4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW Washington, DC 20016

By its very nature, though text, choral music is not often abstract. Frequently, however, contemporary composers have taken a more abstract approach by creating music without word, by adopting vocal devices, or even creating open approaches to shape and form that provide greater parallels to visual art. Join us for an inspiring earful of innovative approaches to choral sound in conjunction with the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center’s exhibition of large abstract works by Steven Cushner, this program with commentary will be a delight for the eyes, ears, and mind. 

Program to include graphic notation works by Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer, Estonian composer Veljo Tormas' "Curse upon iron," a contemporary Tintinnabuli-minimalist composition by Arvo Pärt, performance art by Meredith Monk, works by Austraian Stephen Leek and experimentalist Toby Twinning using non-traditional vocal techniques, and more.

Fall for Jazz

American University Jazz Orchestra
November 10, 2023, 7:30 p.m.
Joshua Bayer, director
Katzen Arts Center, Abramson Family Recital Hall
4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW Washington, DC 20016

The AU Jazz Orchestra plays swing, bop, funk, and rock! Each concert features a variety of these styles. 

stay with me

American University Chorus
Casey Cook, director
December 1–2, 2023, 7:30 p.m.
Abramson Family Recital Hall, Katzen Arts Center
4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW Washington, DC 20016
Barbara Wilkinson, pianist

The AU Chorus fall concert explores the need for us to stay connected, to build a family and community, and to be together with those we love through the joys and sorrows of life. This concert will feature excerpts from Eric Whitacre's "The Sacred Veil." This concert will mark Casey Cook's 10th year as director of the American University Chorus. 

Florence Price Symphony no. 3

American University Symphony Orchestra
Matthew Brown, conductor
November 11, 7:30 p.m. November 12, 3 pm.
Katzen Arts Center, Abramson Family Recital Hall
4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW Washington, DC 20016

American University Symphony Orchestra will present, for the first time in its history, Florence Price's Symphony no. 3 in C minor. Florence Price was a Black female American composer who was largely overlooked during her career, and even more so posthumously, due to her race and gender. Her music is a force that the orchestral world is finally starting to reckon with. Also featuring Wagner's Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde

American Landscapes

American University Symphonic Band
December 3, 2023, 3 p.m.
Matthew Brown, conductor
Katzen Arts Center, Abramson Family Recital Hall
4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW Washington, DC 20016

The American University Symphonic Band explores a variety of works inspired by North America’s vast and varied natural world. Works include Copland's iconic “Appalachian Spring,” a delightful multi-movement work titled "A Little Mexican Suite" by Mexican composer Nubia Jaime-Donjuan, a modern setting of the classic song "Shenandoah" by Omar Thomas, and a variety of other works.

From the AU Department of Performing Arts. Tickets: Free for AU students with ID, $10 for alumni, staff, faculty, children (under 18), and senior citizens (55 and older), $15 general public.

Overture 2023

Overture 2023

October 6, 8 p.m. and October 7 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Katzen Arts Center, Studio Theatre, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Directed by Nancy Bannon

Overture welcomes to the stage AU’s newest actors from the dynamic class of 2027. Showcasing the talents of its performers, this production features music, text and movement assembled and devised by the student company, in collaboration with faculty director Nancy Bannon.


Head Over Heels Songs by the Go-Go's

Head Over Heels

Songs by The Go-Go’s
Based on ‘The Arcadia’ by Sir Philip Sidney
Conceived and Original Book by Jeff Whitty
Adapted by James Magruder
October 20 and 27, 2023, 8 p.m.
October 21 and 28, 2023, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Directed by Carl Menninger
Music Direction by Kristin Stowell
Choreographed by Cate Ginsberg
Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre
4200 Wisconsin Ave. NW Washington, DC 20016

A hilarious, exuberant celebration of love, Head Over Heels follows the escapades of a royal family on an outrageous journey to save their beloved kingdom from extinction—only to discover the key to their realm’s survival lies within each of their own hearts. This laugh-out-loud love story is set to the music of the iconic 1980s all-female rock band The Go-Go’s, including the hit songs, “We Got the Beat,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” “Vacation,” Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth,” and “Mad About You.”

Content: The production includes sexual innuendo, simulated intercourse, violence, and death.

Daughters of Leda by Madeline Sayet

Daughters of Leda

By Madeline Sayet
November 1-3, 2023, 8 p.m. November 4, 2023, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Directed by Shanara Gabrielle and Angelisa Gillyard
Katzen Arts Center Studio Theatre
4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW Washington, DC 20016

In this contemporary reimagining of epic tales from Ancient Greece, the seasons change, and Persephone returns to the underworld. A mortal girl arrives at the same time, asking questions that turn history upside down. The Fates have a game up their sleeve—they are tired, they need a vacation. But in order to depart, they have to give the stories they exploited back. In a whirlwind of events, Adam and Eve, Leda (and the Swan), Helen, Clytemnestra, Iphigenia, and Electra all come together to choose their own destinies and finally tell their side of the stories that have instilled fear of feminine knowledge for far too long. 

Content: This production includes references to rape and suicide, and a depiction of domestic violence. 

Damn Things Will Kill Ya

By Olivia Luzquinos
December 5–8, 2023, 8 p.m.
December 9, 2023, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Directed by Aaron Posner
Katzen Arts Center Studio Theatre
4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW Washington, DC 20016

"You can't choose who you love. It doesn't work like that."

A little thing like lung cancer isn’t going to stop Ruth from smoking—even in the hospital. As her children gather by her bedside, they struggle with the hard-headed, hard-hearted woman who raised them—and with each other. As events unfold, the family is forced to grapple with faith, fear, forgiveness, and the complicated consequences of letting go. Damn Things Will Kill Ya was written by recent AU graduate Olivia Luzquinos (CAS ’23), and features AU Theatre faculty member Tara Giordano as the matriarch Ruth. This production will be the first time the AU Theatre Program has fully produced a show by a recent graduate. 

Content: This production includes adult themes and references to suicide. 

Asad Raza. Photo: Alex de Brabant

Asad RazaSeptember 28, 6:00 pm, Katzen 201
Studio Art MFA Program

Asad Raza in conversation with Professor Alexandra Silverthorne.

Asad Raza (born Buffalo, USA) creates dialogues and rejects disciplinary boundaries in his work, which conceives of art as a metabolic, active experience. Diversion, first shown at Kunsthalle Portikus in 2022, diverts a river through the gallery space. Absorption, in which cultivators create artificial soil, was the 34th Kaldor Public Art Project in Sydney (2019), later shown at the Gropius Bau, Berlin (2020) and Ruhrtriennale (2021). In Untitled (plot for dialogue) (2017), visitors played tennis in a sixteenth-century church in Milan. Root sequence. Mother tongue, at the 2017 Whitney Biennial, combines twenty-six trees, caretakers and objects. Schema for a school was an experimental school at the 2015 Ljubljana Graphic Art Biennial. Raza premiered the feature film Minor History at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2019.

Raza’s works often inhabit intimate settings such as The Bedroom at the 2018 Lahore Biennale. For home show (2015), at his apartment in New York, Raza asked artists, friends, and family to intervene in his life, while Life to come (2019) at Metro Pictures featured participatory works and Shaker dance. With Hans Ulrich Obrist, he curates a series of exhibitions inspired by Édouard Glissant, including Mondialité (Villa Empain, Brussels), Trembling Thinking (Americas Society, New York), Where the Oceans Meet (MDC Museum of Art and Design, Miami), and This language which is every stone (IMA, Brisbane). Of Pakistani background, Raza studied literature and filmmaking at Johns Hopkins and NYU, where he helped organize a labor strike.

Asad was the co-director of the Washington Project for the Arts' 2023 symposium: "How can we gather now?"

Register for 9/28

Steven Cushner Headshot

Steven CushnerNovember 14, 6:00 pm, Katzen 201Studio Art MFA Program


Inspired by the human instinct to identify patterns in daily life, Steven Cushner's (American, born 1954) work is created through the performance of painting as the distillation of gesture into iconography. 

His imagery is derived from the obvious logic of simple functions like the mechanics of a stack of firewood, the weave of a fisherman’s net, or the movement of a buoy in the ocean. Each work, varying in scale from enormous to tiny, has a commanding presence that teases out the relationship between what something looks like and how it acts. Spanning three decades, Cushner's pedagogical stream of work has established him as a singularly significant painter.

Steven Cushner is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and received his Master of Fine Arts in painting from the University of Maryland in 1980. His work is included in numerous private and public collections, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

Presented in conjunction with CUSHNER on view at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center through December 10. 

Register for 11/14

In the AU Arts Community

Audience member asks a question at a past conference.

Arts ·

Thirteen Years of Breaking Boundaries: AU's Feminist Art History Conference

Read More

DANCEWORKS 2023. Photo: Justin Williams

Arts ·

Announcing Fall Performing Arts Events

Read More

AU Chamber Singers perform at the Martinů Hall of Music and Dance Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts, Prague (The Lichtenstein Palace).

Arts ·

AU Chamber Singers Perform Across Central Europe

Read More