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Arts and Culture

Six New Exhibitions at American University Museum Focus on Regional, International Art

By Maralee Csellar

The six exhibitions opening Tuesday, November 11 at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center reflect the museum’s practice of putting regional art in an international context, providing a unique contribution to the cultural life of the Nation’s Capital.

“Highlighting Washington-based artists alongside international artists echoes our university’s commitment to the region while exploring the larger global issues in society,” said museum director and curator Jack Rasmussen. 

Artists Jack Boul, Dalya Luttwak, and Jae Ko have all lived and worked in Washington for many years, though Luttwak and Ko were born in Israel and Korea, respectively. Their exhibitions:

Jack Boul: Then and Now—Former American University professor Jack Boul exhibits his intimately scaled prints, drawings, and paintings of everyday life. Catalogue.

Jae Ko—As described by Nord Wennerstun in Artforum International, “Jae Ko uses large, tightly bound spools of adding-machine paper that she wraps, folds, and contorts like toffee.” Catalogue.

Dalya Luttwak: Hidden —In a poem called “From the Book of Questions,” Pablo Neruda asks “Why do the Trees Conceal the Splendor of Their Roots?" Israeli-born Dalya Luttwak digs literally and metaphorically to study the hidden structures and shapes of plant roots, exploring the differences and relationships between parts above ground and parts below within the same plant. Catalogue.

The other three shows are by artists who, for the most part, made their art in their native Belgium, the Czech Republic, and every Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking country in the world. They include: 

Calentamiento Global: An Exhibition Organized by the Association of Ibero-American Cultural Attachés —The exhibition presents a variety of work from Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries. This exhibition is curated by AU Museum director Jack Rasmussen and Panamanian gallerist Jilma Prada. Catalogue.

Onthaasting: About Spare Time and Slower Worlds—“Onthaasting” is recreation as an “escape” from the perceived unpleasant aspects of daily reality. It takes place on the outskirts of contemporary life: on mountaintops, in vast regions of open space, in churches, in landscapes, in gardens …but most of all in the mind. Curators Niels Van Tomme and Jan Van Woensel present Belgian contemporary artists within this conceptual framework.

Invasion 68: Prague, Photographs by Josef Koudelka—Moravian-born theatre photographer Josef Koudelka presents photographs of the 1968 Soviet invasion of the city of Prague, which ended the political liberation of Czechoslovakia historically known as the Prague Spring. Forty years after they were taken and smuggled out of the country, Koudelka’s searing images provide a glimpse into both an historic event and his personal experience with conflict. Catalogue.

All exhibitions open to the public on Tuesday, November 11. Calentamiento Global, Onthaasting, and Jae Ko close on Sunday, December 21. Jack Boul and Invasion 68: Prague close on Sunday, December 28. Dalya Luttwak closes on Sunday, January 18. A series of free programs, including gallery talks will be announced separately.   

Also new at the museum is a major sculpture by famed Japanese bamboo artist Kawashima Shigeo. The sculpture, Ring, formerly installed in front of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and has found a permanent home at American University on the grounds of the Katzen Arts Center.

Museum Information, Exhibition Hours & Location:

The American University Museum is a three-story public museum and sculpture garden located within the university’s Katzen Arts Center. The region’s largest university facility for exhibiting art, the museum has a permanent collection that highlights the donors’ holdings and AU’s Watkins Collection. Rotating exhibitions emphasize regional, national, and international contemporary art. In October, the museum opened a retail shop that sells books, catalogs, and prints related to past and current exhibitions, as well as fine crafts and other one-of-a-kind objects.

The Katzen Arts Center, named for Washington-area benefactors Dr. and Mrs. Cyrus Katzen, brings all the visual and performing arts programs at AU into one space. Designed to foster interdisciplinary collaboration in the arts, the Katzen includes the museum, the Abramson Family Recital Hall, the Studio Theatre, a dance studio, an electronics studio, artists’ studios, rehearsal space, and classrooms.

The museum, located at 4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20016, is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Museum admission is free.