February 4, 2022

Grand Rapids Art Museum Partners with MillerKnoll to Present Educational Programming

GRAM announces public programs during Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue

The Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) is partnering with MillerKnoll to present educational programming for the traveling exhibition Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue, on view Jan. 29 through April 30, 2022, featuring 140 works by two of today’s most influential photo-based artists. Exploring over forty years of photography, In Dialogue gives a unique glimpse into Dawoud Bey and Carrie Mae Weems’ distinct artistic approaches and trajectories, as well as their shared focus on amplifying communities and experiences that have been underrepresented throughout history.

Building on the exhibition’s themes of race, class, representation, and systems of power, the partnership brings a diverse lineup of programs to the West Michigan community. Planned programming includes hands-on and virtual art experiences for elementary to high school students, an artist talk with Bey and Weems, and the Community Kitchen Table Series, a three-part series of community discussions.

Through the support of MillerKnoll, GRAM’s programming will focus on advancing equity and removing barriers to accessibility among students in schools throughout West Michigan where arts and cultural learning experiences have been underfunded. GRAM will provide in-person and virtual learning opportunities, including interactive guided tours, engagements with guest speakers and local photography artists, and digital resources with lesson plans and art projects. GRAM will serve up to 3,000 students, with over 80% of participating students from low-income households. 

Speaking about the programming’s impact, GRAM Director of Advancement Elly Barnette-Dawson commented, “The Grand Rapids Art Museum is incredibly grateful for this partnership with MillerKnoll, which provides the much-needed support to bring accessible art experiences to our community. Through this programming, we look forward to creating meaningful dialogue and breaking down barriers to access so that more guests can experience the powerful, important work in Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue.”

Following the exhibition’s debut in Grand Rapids, educational content and programming resources will travel to museums across the U.S. on the exhibition tour, including the Tampa Museum of Art, Seattle Art Museum, and The Getty Center, Los Angeles. This content sharing will empower other museums to engage their own communities’ students with learning and dialogue through the power of art, creativity, and design.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Grand Rapids Art Museum to bring this impactful exhibition to life in a way that will engage youth audiences in West Michigan and across the country over the next year and a half,” said Linda Brand, Executive Director MillerKnoll Philanthropy. “At MillerKnoll we are intentional in our support for non-profit organizations and programs that align with our passion for equity and justice. Connecting Bey and Weems to underrepresented groups in our communities through their work, their stories, and their personal engagement in youth education is how we impact much needed change.”

Programming Supported by MillerKnoll:

Artist Talk: Dawoud Bey and Carrie Mae Weems
Thursday, March 24
6:30 pm
Grand Rapids Art Museum

Artists Dawoud Bey and Carrie Mae Weems will discuss their relationship of over forty years and the shared dialogue between their work in a conversation moderated by GRAM Chief Curator Ron Platt. For those unable to attend in person, the talk will also be livestreamed.

Community Kitchen Table Series Conversations
March 24: Diversity in Design with MillerKnoll
April 21: Rewriting History, partners TBA
May 19: Art as Activism, partners TBA
Grand Rapids Art Museum

Based on Carrie Mae Weems’ Kitchen Table Series, a photo narrative where Weems portrays a woman in various stages and relationships throughout her life, GRAM will create a three-part series of community-focused programs, intended to spark conversation surrounding Weems’ photography. The Kitchen Table Series Conversations will pair with socially-focused organizations to feature presentations and facilitate community discussions on identity and experience, themes regularly explored in Weems’ work. To ensure community access to these discussions and the accompanying exhibition, the series will be free to the public as part of Meijer Free Thursday Nights.

Art Education Experiences for West Michigan Students
To bolster accessibility and provide a well-rounded, arts-inclusive education for local students, GRAM and MillerKnoll will partner with school districts that are underfunded for arts and cultural experiences, providing in-class resources and lessons plans as well as tours, art creation workshops, engagements with guest speakers, and more activities designed to ensure that all students have access to enriching arts and cultural learning experiences.

Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue is organized by the Grand Rapids Art Museum, with presenting support provided by MillerKnoll. 

About the Exhibition
Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue (Jan. 29 - April 30, 2022) brings together a focused selection of work from a period of over forty years by two of today’s most important and influential photo-based artists. Both born in 1953, Bey and Weems found motivation for their art in the changing American social landscape of their youth. Since meeting in a photography class taught by Bey at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1976, the two artists have been intellectual colleagues and close friends, each exploring similar themes of race, class, representation, and systems of power. In Dialogue is the first exhibition to exclusively bring their work together.

About the Grand Rapids Art Museum
Connecting people through art, creativity, and design. Established in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, the Art Museum is internationally known for its distinguished design and LEED® Gold certified status. Established in 1910 as the Art Association of Grand Rapids, GRAM has grown to include more than 6,000 works of art, including American and European 19th and 20th century painting and sculpture and more than 3,000 works on paper. Embracing the city’s legacy as a leading center of design and manufacturing, GRAM has a growing collection in the area of design and modern craft. For hours and admission information, call 616.831.1000 or visit artmuseumgr.org. 

About MillerKnoll
MillerKnoll is a collective of dynamic brands that comes together to design the world we live in. MillerKnoll includes Herman Miller and Knoll, plus Colebrook Bosson Saunders, DatesWeiser, Design Within Reach, Edelman Leather, Fully, Geiger, HAY, Holly Hunt, KnollTextiles, Maars Living Walls, Maharam, Muuto, naughtone, and Spinneybeck|FilzFelt. MillerKnoll is an unparalleled platform that redefines modern for the 21st century by building a more sustainable, equitable, and beautiful future for everyone.

  A young woman looks at large-scale black and white portraits by Dawoud Bey in GRAMs galleries.

Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue at GRAM

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