Art Works Blog

When the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) was established by Congress in 1962, its founding legislation dictated that the museum was limited to collecting paintings and statuary. As NPG Assistant Curator of Photographs Leslie Ureña pointed out, “the history of portraiture is for the elite, so we had...
When 25-year-old Gordon Parks picked up his first camera around 1937, he had already survived a period of homelessness, tried his hand at composing music, and worked as a waiter on one of Northern Pacific Railway’s luxury trains. He was years away from being Life magazine’s first African-American...
Goldie Goldbloom—NEA Creative Writing Fellow and new NEA Big Read author—grew up in Western Australia. On her family farm in the country’s rural outback, her grandparents hosted Italian prisoners of war during World War II, which inspired Goldbloom to write her award-winning novel, The Paperbark...
"Just like moons and like suns, /With the certainty of tides,/ Just like hopes springing high,/ Still I’ll rise.” — Maya Angelou (from "Still I Rise" ) For Black History Month, revisit our interview with the filmmakers behind the Maya Angelou documentary , which takes its name from her poem, a...
At age 16, Reginald Dwayne Betts was tried and convicted as an adult for carjacking. Since his release at age 24, Betts has become an attorney, a doctoral candidate at Yale Law School, an award-winning poet, essayist, and memoirist, and an advocate for juvenile justice reform. His most recent...
Jazz musicians and advocates receive the NEA Jazz Master Fellowship—the highest honor the nation bestows on jazz artists—because of the indelible mark they have made on the history of jazz, and on our country. From the moment they receive the honor they become a part of our nation's living history...
Valentine’s Day is a time when love and admiration are at the forefront of our minds, much like when we see a truly inspiring work of art. Below are a series of valentines, or love-themed pieces drawn from the collections of several museum and library collections. As you look at these images and...
"The arts are not a frill. The arts are a response to our individuality and our nature, and help to shape our identity. What is there that can transcend deep difference and stubborn divisions? The arts. They have a wonderful universality. Art has the potential to unify. It can speak in many...
Can one man be responsible for a city’s character? If you’re 1982 NEA National Heritage Fellow Philip Simmons , that answer is yes. If you’ve been to Charleston, or even just seen pictures of the South Carolina city, chances are you’ve seen Simmons’ work. Thanks to “the poet of ironwork,” as he’s...
The National Endowment for the Arts is on the verge of releasing an omnibus research report on artists and other cultural workers, based on statistics from various federal data sources. Readers familiar with U.S. stats on artists will appreciate that, whether from choice or need, these workers are...

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