Eye Level

Eye Level is the blog of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery. Publishing behind-the-scenes museum stories since 2005.

African American Artworks at SAAM

The Smithsonian American Art Museum boasts more than two thousand works of art in its collection by more than two-hundred African American artists. Covering centuries of creative expression, the artworks explore themes that reflect the African American experience in paintings, sculpture, prints, textiles and photographs.
Howard on September 15, 2016

Integrating Art in the Online Classroom

Michael Hristakopoulos teaches high school social studies at a virtual school in Florida. This July, he participated in one of SAAM's summer teacher institutes, offered for English and social studies teachers interested in integrating American art into their curricula. This summer, 59 teachers from 22 states and Washington, D.C., participated in one of two week-long sessions. Michael fills us in on how he applied his experience here to his online teaching environment.
Phoebe on September 12, 2016

Material World: The Renwick Invitational

This year's Renwick Invitational features the work of four craft artists—Steven Young Lee, Kristen Morgin, Jennifer Trask and Norwood Viviano—who share a common interest in the exploration of materiality, as well as the processes of transformation, decay, and rebirth.

Luce Unplugged: 5 Questions + 1 with Paperhaus

This September 8, we welcome Paperhaus back to the Luce Foundation Center as a part of Luce Unplugged, our free, monthly local concert series. In partnership with D.C. Music Download, we feature bands influencing the D.C. music scene now and highlight creativity happening within our own city.

Carl Van Vechten: Harlem Heroes

When author and social commentator Carl Van Vechten focused his camera on the African American community of writers, artists, singers, athletes, and politicians in Harlem beginning in the 1930s, it was an eye-opening experience.

Luce Artist Talk with Jackie Hoysted

Each month, the Luce Foundation Center partners with neighboring Flashpoint Gallery to bring local artists to speak about their own work and the inspiration they take from SAAM's collection. We'll round out our summer talk series on Saturday, August 27 with Jackie Hoysted, multimedia artist and visual arts curator at Solas Nua, a DC-based arts organization dedicated to contemporary Irish arts. The Artist Talks series is presented in collaboration with CulturalDC.

Bearing Witness: Martin Puryear's Monumental Public Art

SAAM's Curator of Sculpture, Karen Lemmey, recently joined forces with the GSA Art in Architecture Program's fine arts specialist Bill Caine to lead a "walk and talk" discussion about the importance of public art. Since 1972, the Art in Architecture program has reserved a small piece of the construction budget for new federal buildings around the country for public works of art. In nearly forty-five years, the program has commissioned five-hundred artworks, including Martin Puryear's Bearing Witness, the focus of this hour-plus program.

Art Museum Tours For Visitors Who Are Blind

The best in-person encounters with artwork can engage us with compelling stories, challenge us with thought-provoking ideas, and inspire creativity. By looking deeply, visitors connect with art through what they see. But how does someone who is blind experience art in a museum? At SAAM, a team of volunteer docents have been specially trained to bring artwork to life for visitors who are blind.

Luce Center: Harold Weston's Building the United Nations Series

Harold Weston once told Magazine of Art, "theories and explanations about paintings are... usually unsatisfactory." However, as an artist, I find artists' experiences inform and enrich the artworks they create. The time and place in which a work of art comes to be influences what it is and what it means. An explanation of why Weston decided to paint his Building the United Nations series—two paintings of which are on display in the Luce Foundation Center—is an important part of experiencing the work. The paintings' meticulous realism only tells half the story.
Anne on August 5, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Wendell Castle's Ghost Clock

It's Throwback Thursday! And we at Eye Level have decided it's a great opportunity to bring back some of our interesting posts from the past. After the incredibly successful run of the Renwick Gallery's WONDER exhibition, we wanted to highlight some of our works from SAAM's permanent collection.
Jeff on August 4, 2016

Q and Art: Viola Frey

This post is part of an ongoing series on Eye Level: Q and Art, where American Art's Research department brings you interesting questions and answers about art and artists from our archive. This week: sculptor Viola Frey.

Some Strings Attached: the willful marionette at SAAM

SAAM's annual birthday celebration honoring the legacy of media pioneer Nam June Paik—an artist known for his interest in robotics and humanizing technology—featured artists Lilla LoCurto and Bill Outcault. Their work, the three-foot tall the willful marionette was built from 3-D scanned images of a human figure. It addresses what the artists refer to as "the frailty of the human body."

America Now at SAAM

On Saturday, July 9, SAAM presented America Now: America Particpates, an opportunity to incorporate creativity with citizen democracy through art, music, storytelling, and service.
Jeff on July 14, 2016

Pokémon Go: Games, Art, and Open Spaces at the Museum

Shortly after its release, colleagues began playing Pokémon Go —an augmented reality game that has captured the imagination of the entire internet. Museum visitors were doing the same. At the Smithsonian American Art Museum, new games are often received with more enthusiasm than might be expected of an art museum. Perhaps you've heard, SAAM has a long history with games. Creating, collecting, exhibiting, and, of course, playing them. They're fun, they're often beautiful, and best of all, they connect people.
Amy on July 13, 2016

Luce Artist Talk: Five Questions with Kathryn Thibault

Each month, we partner with our neighbors up the street at Flashpoint Gallery to present our local artist talk series. This month, Kathryn Lynch Thibault joins us to talk about her most recent exhibition and works that inspire her in our Luce Foundation Center. Thibault works across media forms, creating pieces that are not only personal to her, but also challenge how the viewer thinks about common, everyday objects and gestures. Luce Artist Talks are presented in collaboration with CulturalDC.