Urgent Museum Notice

NMWA Launches Innovative New Public Programs Initiative Women, Arts, and Social Change

View of the museum from outside showing the Neoclassical building from one corner. The building is a tan-colored stone with an arched doorway, long vertical windows, and detailed molding around the roof.
Discussion platform highlighting the power of women as advocates for advancing ideas and solutions to society’s most pressing issues

WASHINGTON—This fall, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) will launch Women, Arts and Social Change, a bold programmatic initiative focusing on women and the arts as catalysts for change. Innovative public programs starting Oct. 18 will offer a platform for speakers and attendees to advance ideas and solutions to society’s most pressing issues—especially those affecting women and girls—and inspire action in the arts and beyond.

Women, Arts and Social Change highlights distinctive voices and offers opportunities for audiences to engage with program content in new ways. The initiative’s signature program series, FRESH TALK, will convene prominent women in the arts with individuals outside their fields for creative conversations on art, gender, equity, the environment, identity, education, health, social and economic opportunity, and more. FRESH TALK champions women through the arts, a core value at the heart of the museum’s mission, and progressively advocates for social change.

Among the participants planned for the inaugural season are: artists/designers Ghada Amer, Micol Hebron, Natalie Jeremijenko, Simone Leigh, Gabriel Maher, Guerrilla Girl Alma Thomas, and Carrie Mae Weems; ARTnews Editor-in-Chief Sarah Douglas; Hyperallergic Senior Editor Jillian Steinhauer; International New York Times Design Critic Alice Rawsthorn; author and curator Maura Reilly; Sotheby’s Senior Vice President and Senior Specialist for contemporary art  Gabriela Palmieri; and Galerie Lelong, NY, Vice President/Partner Mary Sabbatino.

“Our goal is to take the three core principles on which the museum was founded—arts, women and social action—and create programs that could begin to make a difference. We also are capitalizing on our location in Washington, D.C., home to so many think tanks, NGOs and policy-making institutions,” said NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling. “This museum is the ideal place to present this steady drumbeat of socially relevant programming that explicitly champions women and the arts as catalysts of change.”

“As a cause-related museum, we are curating our public programs to deliver content relevant to today’s audiences. Through FRESH TALK, our goal is to bring art and social activism to a wider creative sphere and engage participants in meaningful dialogue,” noted recently named NMWA Director of Public Programs Lorie Mertes, an arts administrator and curator with a strong focus on audience engagement. “The programs are designed to inspire and encourage social exchange among diverse audiences on topics that affect us all.”

All events will be available to be streamed live at http://nmwa.org/freshtalk4change, and each program will be recorded and available on the museum’s website shortly after it takes place.

The 2016 season continues with FRESH TALK programs on art and environmental remediation, bicycles as agents of change, and a film screening and conversation on women in the filmmaking industry.

The Women, Arts and Social Change public program initiative is made possible through leadership gifts from Lorna Meyer Calas and Dennis Calas, the MLDauray Arts Initiative, Denise Littlefield Sobel and the Swartz Foundation. Additional support provided by Deborah G. Carstens, Stephanie Sale and Dee Ann McIntyre. RBC Wealth Management is the presenting sponsor of FRESH TALK: Carrie Mae Weems.

The inaugural 2015–16 fall/winter season of FRESH TALK programs includes:

FRESH TALK: Righting the Balance—Can there be gender parity in the art world?

Sunday, October 18, 2015, 3–6 p.m.

Followed by Sunday Supper, 6–8 p.m.

Righting the Balance considers the inequality that persists for women artists today and explores pathways in the quest for gender equity. Introduction byMaura Reilly,author, curator, critic and event co-organizer. Conversations include: The Issue: Jillian Steinhauer, senior editor, Hyperallergic, and Sarah Douglas, editor-in-chief, ARTnews;The Market: Mary Sabbatino, vice president/partner, Galerie Lelong, NY, and Gabriela Palmieri, Sotheby’s senior vice president and senior specialist for contemporary art; The Artist’s Voice: Ghada Amer, Micol Hebron, Simone Leigh and Guerrilla Girl Alma Thomas. Conversation in Context: Jamia Wilson, movement builder, feminist activist and storyteller.

FRESH TALK: Carrie Mae Weems—Can an artist inspire social change?

Sunday, November 15, 2015, 5–6 p.m.

Followed by Sunday Supper, 6–8 p.m.

Over the past 25 years, artist and activist Carrie Mae Weems has developed a complex body of art that has employed photographs, text, fabric, audio, digital images, installation and, most recently, video to investigate family relationships, gender roles, and the histories of racism, sexism, class and political systems. In this FRESH TALK, Weems will discuss her belief in artists’ social responsibility and her recent activist work, including social reform efforts and public art projects in her hometown of Syracuse, N.Y. Weems will be joined by Robert Raben, president and founder of the Washington, D.C.-based lobbying and consulting firm The Raben Group, which produces the annual March on Washington Film Festival. Together Weems and Raben will discuss how projects that merge art and social activism have the potential to create social change in their respective communities.

Presenting sponsor: RBC Wealth Management.

FRESH TALK: Change by Design—Can design be genderless?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016, 7–8 p.m.

Followed by Catalyst, a cocktail hour with a topic and a twist, 8–9 p.m.

In conjunction with NMWA’s exhibition Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today on view Oct. 30, 2015–Feb. 28, 2016, Netherlands-based designer Gabriel Ann Maher, whose work is the exhibition, and Alice Rawsthorn, design critic for theinternational edition of The New York Times, participates in a conversation that considers whether design culture has become less misogynistic or felt any impact from the ongoing debate about gender transition.

FRESH TALK: Change by Design—Can an artist use science and technology to heal the environment?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016, 7–8 p.m.

Followed by Catalyst, a cocktail hour with a topic and a twist, 8–9 p.m.

Director of the Environmental Health Clinic at New York University Natalie Jeremijenko, an artist and engineer, bridges the scientific and art worlds by prescribing creative health solutions for the environment such as creating “singing” bivalves that signal water quality, and a pack of robot dogs that monitor pollution. Jean Case, an engaged philanthropist, investor and pioneer in the world of interactive technologies, joins Jeremijenko to discuss ideas and strategies for advancing women’s innovations in technology. During the Catalyst cocktail hour, D.C.’s technology and maker communities join the conversation.

FRESH TALK: Change by Design—Can a bicycle be an agent of change?

Sunday, May 15, 2016, 3–6 p.m.

Followed by Sunday Supper, 6–8 p.m.

In celebration of bicycle month, the museum hosts a Suffragist Social Ride that culminates in a picnic-style Sunday Supper featuring conversations on the role of the bicycle as an agent of social change. The program also includes a screening of Wadjda (2013), a film directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour about a rebellious Saudi girl (Waad Mohammed) who enters a Koran recitation competition at her school in the hopes of winning enough money to buy her own bicycle. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World.

Additional FRESH TALKs in Summer/Fall 2016:

  • Change by Design: Women Behind the Lens—Where are all the great women filmmakers?
  • Change by Design: Women Building Impact—Can architects build to better communities?
  • Change by Design: Fashion as a Visual Manifesto—Can you wear your politics on your sleeve?
  • Righting the Balance II—Can collectors and curators lead the way?


$25 for general admission; $15 for members, seniors and students. Includes museum admission and complimentary dinner or cocktails where noted. Reservations required. For more information, contact freshtalk@nmwa.org.


National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20005

Women, Arts and Social Change

Women, Arts and Social Change (WASC) is a bold new platform at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., composed of programs highlighting the power of women and the arts as catalysts for change. Programs feature convenings of women from a range of disciplines—people whose socially conscious ideas are reshaping lives and economies, engaging communities and empowering women. WASC is a unique forum for leading innovators and thought leaders to engage audiences in creative conversations on art, design, gender, equity, the environment, identity, education, health, social and economic opportunity, and more. #FreshTalk4Change

National Museum of Women in the Arts

Founded in 1981 and opened in 1987, NMWA is the only museum solely dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women in the visual, performing and literary arts. The museum’s collection features 4,500 works from the 16th century to the present created by more than 1,000 artists, including Mary Cassatt, Frida Kahlo, Alma Thomas, Lee Krasner, Louise Bourgeois, Chakaia Booker and Nan Goldin, along with special collections of 18th-century silver tableware and botanical prints. NMWA is located at 1250 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., in a landmark building near the White House. It is open Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday, noon–5 p.m. For information, call 202-783-5000 or visit www.nmwa.org. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for visitors 65 and over and students, and free for NMWA Members and youths 18 and under. Free Community Days are on the first Sunday of the month. For more information about NMWA, visit www.nmwa.org, Broad Strokes Blog, Facebook or Twitter.