Speakers Table

'Dawoud Bey: The Birmingham Project' at NGA

August 29, 2018

Starting September 12, 2018, on view at the National Gallery of Art is the recent acquisition of four large-scale photographs and one video from Dawoud Bey's most important series, "The Birmingham Project."

For more than 40 years photographer Dawoud Bey (b. 1953) has portrayed American youth and those from marginalized communities with an unusual degree of sensitivity and complexityThis deeply felt and conceptually rich monument to the victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 15, 1963 coincides with the 55th anniversary of this tragedy. The exhibition focuses on Bey's representation of the past through the lens of the present, pushing the boundaries of portraiture and engaging ongoing national issues of racism, violence against African Americans, and terrorism in churches.

In four diptychs Bey pairs two life-size portraits representing the victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and related violence in Birmingham that Sunday in 1963: one portrait of a young person the same age as one of the victims, and another of an adult 50 years older—the child's age had he or she survived. Alongside these photographs, the exhibition features Bey's video 9.15.63. This split-screen projection juxtaposes, on the right, a recreation of the drive to the 16th Street Baptist Church, shot from the window of a moving vehicle looking up at trees and the roofs of houses from the vantage point of a young child. On the left, slow pans move through everyday spaces—some familiar (a beauty parlor and barbershop), some politically charged (a lunch counter and schoolroom), as they might have appeared that Sunday morning. Devoid of people, these views poeticize the innocent, mundane existences ripped apart by violence.


A short film of approximately eight minutes is screened in the project room in the West Building and also will be available on the exhibition's webpage. Featuring an interview with Bey, the film will provide valuable context for understanding the series in light of Bey's broader interests in portraiture and American history. It explores how the artist became interested in the topic, how he arrived at the final formulation of his series in diptych portraits and a video, and what he learned on his repeated trips to Birmingham over seven years of research. Finally, the film addresses the links between Bey's work in Birmingham and his current long-term project on the Underground Railroad.

Click here to share your thoughts.

LOC 2018 National Book Festival Sept. 1

August 28, 2018

A diverse lineup of authors – including 40 who write for children and teens – as well as readings, trivia, costumed characters and interactive exhibits will provide a wide variety of family-friendly activities at the 2018 Library of Congress National Book Festival. 


The 18th festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 1 from 9:00 am to 7:30 pm (doors open at 8:30 a.m.) at the Washington Convention Center. 


The event is free and open to everyone.


This year’s festival will include two stages for children’s authors, one for teens and a variety of activities on the Concourse and Lower Level presented by the Library of Congress and festival sponsors. Authors for children and teens appearing at the festival include: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jacqueline Woodson, bestselling author Matt de la Peña and illustrator Loren Long, Girl Scouts CEO Sylvia Acevedo, fantasy writer Leigh Bardugo and many more. Fans of graphic novels will find writers including Roxane Gay (“Black Panther: World of Wakanda”), Ed Piskor (“X-Men: Grand Design”) and Pénélope Bagieu (“Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World”) on the Genre Fiction stage.


Families can pick up a children’s guide to the festival at the information booth on the Lower Level and both children’s stages to plan a day of activities. The guide, which will also be available online at loc.gov/bookfest, was created by the Mensa Foundation and the Library to provide tips on what to see and do.

Click here to share your thoughts.

Rodney Crowell Live at The Hamilton Aug. 25

August 20, 2018

Enjoy a one-evening-only performance by Rodney Crowell at The Hamilton on August 25, 2018.


Americana singer-songwriter, Rodney Crowell has deep roots that stretch back into the alternative country scene of the early seventies, yet his music defies easy classification. He says, “[Americana] is a hard category for people to get their heads around, or at least the terminology is. But all the people who represent it—Townes van Zandt, Guy Clark, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle and more recent stars like John Paul White and Jason Isbell—share a common thread, and that thread is poet. Whether they are actual poets or their music exemplifies a poetic sensibility, generally speaking, the Americana artist shuns commercial compromise in favor of a singular vision. Which resonates with me.”

For tickets, click here.


The Hamilton is located at 600 14th Street NW.

Click here to share your thoughts.