Back by popular demand, U.S. Embassy and National Gallery announce artists and dates for Contemporary Conversations 2016 season

OTTAWA, Jan. 20, 2016 /CNW/ - The Embassy of the United States in Ottawa and the U.S. Department of State's office of Art in Embassies, in partnership with the National Gallery of Canada, are excited to announce the continuation of the Contemporary Conversations (#artconvoAIE) series for a second season. 

Contemporary Conversations invites iconic American artists to Ottawa for discussions on topics that transcend national borders, inspire critical thinking, and connect people across cultures. This year, Contemporary Conversations will bring artists Kiki Smith, Theaster Gates, and Anne Chu to the Gallery for a series of public lectures accompanied by temporary installations of their work.  Each of the featured artists is well-known for his or her unique ability to address creatively some of today's most complex social issues.  Sharing a commitment to cultural diplomacy, all three artists have participated in numerous Art in Embassies exchange programs, and their work has been installed in U.S. embassies, consulates, and ambassadors' residences around the world.

The proposed 2016 schedule will be:

March 31: Kiki Smith
Kiki Smith's diverse and highly influential body of work includes sculpture, printmaking, photography, drawing, and textile.  Balancing a quiet sensitivity to the natural world with a keen awareness of contemporary social issues, Smith's work constantly invites us to reexamine ourselves, our histories, and our places in the world.  In 2012, Smith was awarded the U.S. Department of State International Medal of Art award by Art in Embassies for outstanding work in the field of cultural diplomacy.

May 12:  Theaster Gates
Artist Theaster Gates has expanded his scope of artistic practice to include issues of land use, space policy, and race. These topics that he explores under the larger umbrella of Black Space are the heart of a series of ongoing public conversations Gates has initiated. 

September 29: Anne Chu
Anne Chu's sculptures are based on ancient sources, relics, and folklore, as well as on objects and ideas that bridge the physical and spiritual worlds.  Focusing on the way materials can morph and evolve from one thing into another while blending a variety of historical and cultural references, Chu's work explores the realms between representation and abstraction, subject and object, color and form. 

"The artists chosen for our 2016 series reflect some of the most important contemporary artistic motifs of our time.  Their individual practices and multidisciplinary approaches challenge and inspire our world.  All three artists are affected by their personal history and identity, and my hope is that their talks at the Gallery will embolden our cross-border community to continue asking questions, exploring solutions, and starting conversations that will move us forward into a better future together. I truly believe that art and the artist's voice are the most powerful agents for change," said Vicki Heyman.

"Canadians are known for their keen interest in what goes on south of border and Canadian art lovers are no exception. We are delighted to welcome these important American artists to the Gallery, as part of the second season of Contemporary Conversations, our highly successful partnership with the Embassy of the United States. And we are particularly pleased that this year's artists are all well represented in the national collection," said National Gallery of Canada Director and CEO, Marc Mayer, adding, "I am convinced that 2016's programme will only add to the excitement."

This year's extension of the Contemporary Conversations series builds on the four highly successful presentations delivered in 2015 by U.S. contemporary artists Marie Watt, Nick Cave, Eric Fischl and Stephen Wilkes.

Registration for the first lecture of 2016 by Kiki Smith will begin on March 1.

More information about the series can be found at  

About the National Gallery of Canada

The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art. The Gallery also maintains Canada's premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. In 2015, the National Gallery of Canada established the Canadian Photography Institute, a global multidisciplinary research center dedicated to the history, evolution and future of photography. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @gallerydotca.

About Art in Embassies

The U.S. Department of State's office of Art in Embassies (AIE) promotes cross-cultural dialogue through the visual arts by curating permanent art collections for new embassy buildings, sending temporary exhibitions to ambassadors' residences, and conducting a variety of cultural exchange programs.  Since its establishment in 1963, AIE has worked with more than 25,000 participants around the world including artists, museums, galleries, universities, and private collectors.  Today, with a presence in over 200 venues spread across 171 different countries, AIE continues to demonstrate how art can transcend national borders, foster mutual understanding, and build enduring connections.  For more information please visit:     


SOURCE National Gallery of Canada

For further information: Jennifer Young, Senior Media Specialist, U.S. Embassy Ottawa, / 613-688-5315; Josée-Britanie Mallet, Senior Media and Public Relations Officer, National Gallery of Canada, / 613-990-6835

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