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Alper Initiative for Washington Art

Kenneth Victor Young: Continuum
Curated by Dexter Wimberly
On view April 6-May 26, 2019
View the Exhibition

Now Accepting Submissions

The Alper Initiative for Washington Art accepts general submissions from artists and curators in the DC area year-round.

A Home for Washington Art

The Alper Initiative for Washington Art is dedicated to preserving, presenting, and creating the art history of Washington through our book collection, database, events, and exhibitions. The Alper Initiative includes:

  • 5 new exhibitions submitted by Washington-area artists each year
  • 2,000 square feet of gallery space in the AU Museum
  • 200+ books on DC's unique art history

The Alper Initiative for Washington Art is made possible through a generous grant by American University alumna and art advocate Carolyn Small Alper.

AVATAR: Figurative Sculpture Class with Melissa Ichiuji August 3 & 4, 10AM-4PM

A posed red doll

In this two-day workshop participants will have a hands-on opportunity to work with one of DC’s most dynamic sculptors, Melissa Ichiuji, known for her visceral, emotionally charged, and doll-like sculptures. Ichiuji will demonstrate her method of building a figure from the inside out using found materials, textiles, and meaningful artifacts. Participants will use movement, sketching and guided visualization to unlock the body and mind and learn techniques to create a uniquely personal AVATAR sculpture. Cost for the class is $275 (all materials included).

Our online ticketing system is unavailable due to a software update. In order to register for the class, please call 202-885-3617 or email museum@american.edu. We will collect payment over the phone. Alternatively, you may send a check made out to the American University Museum once you are registered by phone or email:

AU Museum/Katzen
4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016  

Melissa Ichiuji is an American artist based in Virginia. Her art explores themes relating to empowerment and fragility. She has exhibited in museums and galleries in Paris, Brussels, Munich, Berlin, NYC and Washington, DC. Her work has been featured in Modern Luxury, Art in America, Art Investor, NYART, Textiel Plus, the Washington Post and the book 100 Artist of Washington, DC. Read more about Melissa Ichiuji.

Past Exhibitions

Mission Statement

The Alper Initiative for Washington Art promotes an understanding and appreciation of the art and artists of the Washington Metropolitan Area.

We do this by:

  • Providing and staffing a dedicated space within the American University Museum
  • Encouraging dialogue about the history of Washington art and today's emerging and established artists through stimulating programs and provocative events
  • Developing high quality exhibitions, educational programs, and documentation
  • Fostering connections between local artists and the DC community
  • Providing resources for the study of Washington art and artists

We believe:

  • The History of Washington art should be preserved, presented and created
  • The DC art community should have accessible resources to learn about the history of DC art, engage with art created by local artists today, and have a platform to exchange ideas
  • Artists should have a space to go to where they can exhibit, network with other artists, interact with collectors, critics, curators, and build their creative capacity

The AIWA is a 2,000 square foot space located in the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center. There are 5 exhibitions of Washington art per year. The space includes a common gathering space, exhibition and event space, and film and video screening capabilities. We are the only museum space dedicated to the display, research, and encouragement of the region's art and artistic community.

Director's Letter

The Alper Initiative for Washington Art is the gift of Carolyn Small Alper, a Washington artist, AU alumna, and philanthropist. It provides the space and resources to fulfill one of the American University Museum's primary objectives and meet one of the region's greatest needs: to promote an understanding and appreciation of our region's art and artists from our past, present, and future. It is an exhibition space and a place for study and research. But it is first of all a meeting place for people and ideas. Its most important contribution to the Washington region may well be the opportunities it provides for us to exchange perceptions and, perhaps, rewrite the history of Washington art.

The Initiative presents five exhibitions of regional artists each year, creates publications and programming to engage and build the audience for Washington art, and serves as a resource for its study and critical appreciation. Curators are solicited to propose appropriate exhibitions, and artists are invited to submit their work for consideration on our website.

The Initiative is a part of a thriving museum that for ten years has specialized in presenting Washington artists in the larger context of national and international contemporary art. Washington art is strong, intelligent, and relevant, and has earned a prominent place in contemporary cultural discourse. Thanks to the Alper Initiative for Washington Art, we have the means to present serious, focused exhibitions for all the world's appreciation and enlightenment.

Jack Rasmussen

Director and Curator
American University Museum

Kenneth Victor Young: Continuum On view April 6-May 26

Kenneth Victor Young, Morning Sun Rise, 1971. Acrylic on canvas, 32 x 32 in. Courtesy of Margot Stein.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Kenneth Victor Young (1933-2017) moved to Washington, DC in 1964 where he began to paint abstract forms with washed acrylics on unprimed canvas. Young’s artistic philosophy was to bring order out of chaos. His studies in physics and the natural sciences at Indiana University informed a different imagery—a fusion of brilliant colors. Young's knowledge of form and matter gave his paintings a spatial intensity, and he infused this space with multiple orbs of color held together in molecular suspension. Kenneth Victor Young had an illustrious 35-year career as an exhibition designer for the Smithsonian Institution, and his extensive travels during this time helped inform his cosmic abstract style of painting. His love for jazz influenced the movement and vitality of his work.

He is known for his floating colored orbs—imagery that attempts to bring order to chaos and that comments on the pandemonium of life. The selection is representative of the main aspects of his oeuvre as it evolved over several decades. It includes a wide variety of collages in diverse techniques: both early works and those of his mature period; on very small scale and large ones; two-dimensional and sculptural.

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