GRAM receives $35K exhibition funding

Dawoud Bey: The Birmingham Project: Wallace Simmons and Eric Allums. Courtesy Stephen Daiter Gallery

The Grand Rapids Art Museum was approved for a $35,000 Grants for Arts Projects award to support its touring exhibition, Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue.

The exhibit will be on display next year from Jan. 29 to May 1. It brings together 139 works spanning 40 years by photo artists Bey and Weems.

In Dialogue was among more than 1,100 projects chosen in America during the second round of Grants for Arts Projects fiscal year 2021 funding, which total nearly $27 million. GAP is the principal grant category of the National Endowment for the Arts.

“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,” NEA acting chairman Ann Eilers said. “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.”

In Dialogue is the first exhibition Bey and Weems exclusively worked together on. The exhibition sheds light on their 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.

“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,” said Elly Barnette-Dawson, GRAM director of advancement. “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 leadoff to the exhibition.

There also will be 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.

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