Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953). The Birmingham Project: Wallace Simmons and Eric Allums, 2012. Archival pigment prints mounted to dibond, 40 x 64 inches (two separate 40 x 32 inch photographs). © Dawoud Bey. Courtesy of Stephen Daiter Gallery

For Immediate Release

Grand Rapids Art Museum to Receive $35,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

Award supports 2022 exhibition organized by GRAM Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue’

GRAND RAPIDS, MI, May 26, 2021 — The Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) has been approved for a $35,000 Grants for Arts Projects award to support their exhibition Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue (Jan 29 – May 1, 2022). This touring exhibition organized by GRAM brings together 139 works spanning 40 years by today’s most important and influential photo-based artists.

In Dialogue is among the more than 1,100 projects across America totaling nearly $27 million that were selected during this second round of Grants for Arts Projects fiscal year 2021 funding. The Grants for Arts Projects (GAP) is the principal grant category of the National Endowment for the Arts, supporting public engagement with, and access to, various forms of art across the nation, the creation of excellent art, learning in the arts at all stages of life, and the integration of the arts into the fabric of community life. 

As the country and the arts sector begin to imagine returning to a post-pandemic world, the National Endowment for the Arts is proud to announce funding that will help arts organizations such as the Grand Rapids Art Museum reengage fully with partners and audiences,” said NEA Acting Chairman Ann Eilers. Although the arts have sustained many during the pandemic, the chance to gather with one another and share arts experiences is its own necessity and pleasure.” 

Since meeting at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1977, Dawoud Bey and Carrie Mae Weems have been intellectual colleagues and artistic companions. From the outset of their careers, both artists have operated from a deep social commitment to participate in, describe, and define culture. In seeking to express themselves fully, the artists have expanded possibilities within photography and video to address their chosen subjects. 

In Dialogue is the first exhibition to exclusively pair Bey and Weems’ work together to shed light on their unique artistic trajectories and modes of presentation, as well as their exploration of the mutual themes of race, class, cultural identity, representation, and systems of power. Their work is grounded in specific African-American realities and historical events, while simultaneously speaking more broadly to the human condition. 

The Grand Rapids Art Museum is incredibly thankful for this award from the National Endowment for the Arts, which provides necessary support for the presentation of In Dialogue in Grand Rapids and its travel to additional venues across the country,” commented GRAM Director of Advancement Elly Barnette-Dawson. Through this grant, even more communities will have access to the transformative experiences and conversations sparked by the groundbreaking photography of Dawoud Bey and Carrie Mae Weems.” 

In conjunction with the opening of In Dialogue, GRAM is planning a series of community-centered events organized around the exhibition’s primary themes. Bey and Weems will take part in person in a public program as a lead-off to the exhibition. Also planned are docent-led tours and art-making workshops inspired by the artists’ work. K‑12 students from schools across West Michigan will participate in tours and workshops that center on the exhibition, and teachers will participate in an exhibition-inspired professional development workshop led by the Museum. 

For more information on the projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.

Image: Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953). The Birmingham Project: Wallace Simmons and Eric Allums, 2012. Archival pigment prints mounted to dibond, 40 x 64 inches (two separate 40 x 32 inch photographs). © Dawoud Bey. Courtesy of Stephen Daiter Gallery.

About the National Endowment for the Arts
Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more. 

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 Grand Rapids Art Association, 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 GRAM’s hours and admission fees, call 616.831.1000 or visit artmuseumgr.org.

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