The Graduate Student Lecture Series continues with the annual Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Track Ph.D. Lecture at 5:30pm on Thursday, November 15, in room 101 in Recitation Hall. Dorothy Moss, curator of painting and sculpture at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, will present “Active Absence, the Obama Portraits, and the National Portrait Gallery.“ Moss states, "the unveiling of the Obama portraits in February 2018 transformed the National Portrait Gallery’s attendance numbers leading to a record-breaking 2 million visitors in 2018. Leading up to the unveiling, Portrait Gallery curators and historians were already working on exhibitions and programming that would increase the museum’s relevance in today’s world. Crucial to this work is a focus on expanding the narratives told in museum spaces and opening a way for new stories to be told. This paper will discuss the impact of the Obama portraits and will place these two portraits in context of ongoing work to reimagine the National Portrait Gallery in its 50th anniversary year."
Dorothy Moss is an alumna of the Department of Art History and received her Ph.D. in 2002. In addition to her involvement bringing the Obama presidential portraits to the National Portrait Gallery, Moss is the Director of the triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, and she recently curated the exhibition, “The Sweat of Their Face.”
We spoke with Moss in a previous article to talk about her work behind the Obama portraits, as well as “The Sweat of Their Face.”
This lecture is free and open to the public.