Democracy Collection Launches Traveling Exhibition: “A More Perfect Union: American Artists and the Currents of our Time”


The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations’ Office of Art in Embassies is celebrating its 60th Anniversary with the launch of a traveling exhibition called the Democracy Collection. The exhibition, titled “A More Perfect Union: American Artists and the Currents of Our Time,” will showcase the works of renowned American artists and serve as a platform to explore the intersection of art, democracy, and activism. This blog post provides an overview of the exhibition and its itinerary, highlighting the importance of art in promoting democracy and fostering cultural exchange.

Exhibition Itinerary:

The Democracy Collection exhibition will commence on May 25th at the Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece, marking the first stop of its international tour. From there, it will travel to Lisbon, Portugal in June, and culminate in Geneva, Switzerland, coinciding with the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council Session on June 29. The exhibition’s global journey allows for diverse audiences to engage with the artworks and participate in related public diplomacy events centered around democracy.

Public Diplomacy Events on Democracy:

At each exhibition location, U.S. embassies will organize art-filled public diplomacy events that focus on the theme of democracy. These events aim to foster dialogue, exchange ideas, and explore the current challenges faced by democracies worldwide. For instance, U.S. Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis will host a symposium called Partners in Democracy, featuring influential voices such as documentary photographer Platon, who will discuss the challenges and opportunities for democracies in the contemporary world.

Collaborations and Discussions:

Throughout the exhibition tour, collaborations with local partners and artists will enrich the program. In Lisbon, U.S. Embassy Ambassador Randi Charno Levine will host a series of workshops, panel discussions, and public events in collaboration with institutions like the Central Tejo at Museu da Electricidade and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Iconic American artists from the Democracy Collection, along with Portuguese artists, will engage in in-depth discussions on democracy-related topics, highlighting the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and representation in contemporary art.

Art, Activism, and Democracy:

The exhibition in Geneva will feature a salon-style dialogue between United States Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council Michèle Taylor and civil rights singer turned painter Joan Baez. This conversation will explore the ideals of democracy and the intersection of art and activism. The evening will also include a musical performance by alumni of the U.S. Fulbright program. The exhibition’s opening reception will feature guest speakers such as environmental artist Alexis Rockman and former White House Arts Advisor and actor Kal Penn, emphasizing the transformative power of art in promoting democratic values.

Artists Defending Democracy:

The Democracy Collection initiative puts artists at the forefront of defending democracy. Alongside the traveling exhibition, artists will visit U.S. embassies worldwide, engaging in cultural exchange and promoting democratic values through their work. The initiative also includes a democracy-themed art contest for middle and high school students, encouraging young artists to express their perspectives on democracy.

Post Summary:

The Democracy Collection traveling exhibition, “A More Perfect Union: American Artists and the Currents of our Time,” showcases the power of art in promoting democracy, fostering cultural exchange, and engaging audiences in critical conversations. Through collaborations, discussions, and public diplomacy events, this initiative celebrates the 60th Anniversary of the Office of Art in Embassies and reinforces the importance of art as a vehicle for cross-cultural understanding and democratic values.

By Joshi

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