Ava DuVernay and Jeff Koons Named Harman-Eisner Artists in Residence at Aspen Institute

June 22, 2017

Renowned artists to participate in Aspen Ideas Festival other Institute Programs

Contact: Danai Pointer

Washington, DC, June 22, 2017 –– The Aspen Institute Arts Program is pleased to announce that film director Ava DuVernay and artist Jeff Koons will serve as Harman-Eisner Artists in Residence for 2017-2018. In addition to the artists’ involvement in Institute activities, Koons will participate at the Aspen Ideas Festival (June 25 – July 1, 2017) and DuVernay will be featured at the 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival.

“The artist-in-residence program creates dynamic opportunities to explore and activate the intersections between the arts and society, and it is a tremendous gift to have Jeff Koons and Ava DuVernay working with us this year,” said Damian Woetzel, director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to engage with each of these extraordinary artists in bringing their uniquely powerful voices to bear on the issues we face today.”

Ava DuVernay is celebrated for her work across film, television and activism. Nominated for the Academy Award, winner of the BAFTA for Best Documentary and The Peabody Award, Ava DuVernay’s 13TH is one of the most critically-acclaimed films of 2016. In 2015, DuVernay directed the historical drama SELMA, which garnered four Golden Globe nominations and two Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Her current directorial work includes the award-winning dramatic television series QUEEN SUGAR; and the upcoming Disney feature film A WRINKLE IN TIME. Winner of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival’s Best Director prize for her previous feature MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, DuVernay’s early directorial work includes I WILL FOLLOW, VENUS VS. and THIS IS THE LIFE.  ‎In 2017, DuVernay was named one of Fortune Magazine’s 50 Greatest World Leaders and TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.‎  She also distributes and amplifies the work of people of color and women directors through her film collective ARRAY, named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies.

“The Aspen Institute Arts Program plays an important role bringing people together to reflect on arts and culture’s value in supporting empathy, understanding, and healing in our communities—so I am thrilled to serve as the 2017-18 Harman Eisner Artist in Residence,” DuVernay said. “I look forward to doing good work with the Institute, using creativity and conversation to highlight the pressing social justice issues of our time.”

Jeff Koons is an artist who works with everyday objects; his work revolves around themes of self-acceptance and transcendence. He is widely known for his sculptures Rabbit and Balloon Dog as well as his monumental floral works Puppy and Split-Rocker. Since his first solo exhibition in 1980, Koons’s work has been shown in major galleries and institutions throughout the world. His art was the subject of a major exhibition, Jeff Koons: A Retrospective, which was organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art and traveled to the Centre Pompidou Paris and the Guggenheim Bilbao (2014-2015).

“I am honored to serve as the 2017 Harman-Eisner Artist in Residence at the Aspen Ideas Festival,” said Koons. “I started my involvement with art at the age of 3 and my relationship to it continues to this day to give me insight and a concept of freedom that I otherwise would not have. I am grateful for the opportunity I have had, and for people to interact with my work and discuss it. I look forward to joining Michael Eisner on stage for a conversation about my life and career.”

The Harman-Eisner Artist in Residence program was inaugurated in July 2006 to ensure that the valuable ideas and perspectives of leading artists are shared in the Institute’s ongoing “Great Conversation”—in discussions related to arts and culture, but also in those related to the myriad other vital issues the program addresses, from urban development, education, and race to citizenship, domestic politics, and foreign policy. Previous Harman-Eisner Artists in Residence have included opera singer Renée Fleming, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Memphis jookin master Lil Buck, artist JR, actress Alfre Woodard, director Julie Taymor, architect Elizabeth Diller, actress Goldie Hawn, conductor Robert Spano, dancer and current Arts Program Director Damian Woetzel, author Tobias Wolff, painter Chuck Close, actor and playwright Anna Deavere Smith, stage director Stephen Wadsworth, and opera singer Jessye Norman.

“Jeff Koons and Ava DuVernay are two of the most extraordinary figures in visual art and film and their work does so much to spark our imagination and inspire us to be active citizens,” said Michael D. Eisner, Institute trustee and chair of its Committee on the Arts. “I couldn’t be more excited to have them join us at the Aspen Institute this year.”

Artists are selected and invited by the Aspen Institute Arts Program. Inquiries should be directed to Danai Pointer at (212) 895-8072 or danai.pointer@aspeninstitute.org

The Aspen Institute Arts Program was established to support and invigorate the role of arts and culture in public life through initiatives, public and private convenings, and strategy work across the United States and globally. Directed by Damian Woetzel, it brings together artists, advocates, educators, foundations, government officials, and others to exchange ideas and develop policies and programs that strengthen the reciprocal relationship between the arts and society.

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit http://www.aspeninstitute.org.

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