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Museum & Buildings
Trails and Grounds open daily sunrise to sunset.
In honor of our free exhibition We the People: The Radical Notion of Democracy, we invite you to join us for a conversation in the Great Hall with acclaimed musician Yo-Yo Ma and artist Carrie Mae Weems. Drawing from their careers and experiences as artists and social advocates, our speakers will share their perspectives on the role of artists and their civic duties.
Tickets are $15 ($12 for members, $5 for students), reserve your spot online or by calling Guest Services at (479) 657-2335 today.
Watch via livestream. Sign up for eNews to be notified about livestream information.
At the request of the artists, all attendees and staff ages 2 and up are required to wear a face covering during this event. Guests may remove their face covering to eat or drink. Masks will be available upon entry for those who do not have one.
Yo-Yo Ma’s multi-faceted career is testament to his enduring belief in culture’s power to generate trust and understanding. Whether performing new or familiar works from the cello repertoire, collaborating with communities and institutions to explore culture’s role in society, or engaging unexpected musical forms, Yo-Yo strives to foster connections that stimulate the imagination and reinforce our humanity.
In 2018, Yo-Yo set out to perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s six suites for solo cello in one sitting in 36 locations around the world that encompass our cultural heritage, our current creativity, and the challenges of peace and understanding that will shape our future. And last year, he began a new journey to explore the many ways in which culture connects us to the natural world. Over the next several years, Yo-Yo will visit places that epitomize nature’s potential to move the human soul, creating collaborative works of art and convening conversations that seek to strengthen our relationship to our planet and to each other.
Both endeavors continue Yo-Yo’s lifelong commitment to stretching the boundaries of genre and tradition to explore how music not only expresses and creates meaning, but also helps us to imagine and build a stronger society and a better future.
It was this belief that inspired Yo-Yo to establish Silkroad, a collective of artists from around the world who create music that engages their many traditions. Through his work with Silkroad, as well as throughout his career, Yo-Yo Ma has sought to expand the classical cello repertoire, premiering works by composers including Osvaldo Golijov, Leon Kirchner, Zhao Lin, Christopher Rouse, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Giovanni Sollima, Bright Sheng, Tan Dun, and John Williams.
In addition to his work as a performing artist, Yo-Yo has partnered with communities and institutions from Chicago to Guangzhou to develop programs that advocate for a more human-centered world. Among his many roles, Yo-Yo is a UN Messenger of Peace, the first artist ever appointed to the World Economic Forum’s board of trustees, and a member of the board of Nia Tero, the US-based nonprofit working in solidarity with Indigenous peoples and movements worldwide.
Yo-Yo’s discography of more than 100 albums (including 19 Grammy Award winners) reflects his wide-ranging interests. In addition to his many iconic renditions of the Western classical canon, he has made recordings that defy categorization, among them Appalachia Waltz and Appalachian Journey with Mark O’Connor and Edgar Meyer and two Grammy-winning tributes to the music of Brazil. Yo-Yo’s recent recordings include: Sing Me Home, with the Silkroad Ensemble, which won the 2016 Grammy for Best World Music Album; Six Evolutions — Bach: Cello Suites; and Songs of Comfort and Hope, created and recorded with pianist Kathryn Stott in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yo-Yo’s latest album is Beethoven for Three: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 5,” with pianist Emanuel Ax and violinist Leonidas Kavakos.
Yo-Yo was born in 1955 to Chinese parents living in Paris. He began to study the cello with his father at age four and three years later moved with his family to New York City, where he continued his cello studies at the Juilliard School before pursuing a liberal arts education at Harvard. He has received numerous awards, including the Avery Fisher Prize (1978), the National Medal of the Arts (2001), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2010), Kennedy Center Honors (2011), and the Polar Music Prize (2012). He has performed for nine American presidents, most recently on the occasion of President Biden’s inauguration.
Yo-Yo and his wife have two children. He plays three instruments: a 2003 instrument made by Moes & Moes, a 1733 Montagnana cello from Venice, and the 1712 Davidoff Stradivarius.
Carrie Mae Weems
Considered one of the most influential contemporary American artists, Carrie Mae Weems has investigated family relationships, cultural identity, sexism, class, political systems, and the consequences of power. Determined as ever to enter the picture—both literally and metaphorically—Weems has sustained an on-going dialogue within contemporary discourse for over thirty years. During this time, Carrie Mae Weems has developed a complex body of art employing photographs, text, fabric, audio, digital images, installation, and video.
In a New York Times review of her retrospective, Holland Cotter wrote, “Ms. Weems is what she has always been, a superb image maker and a moral force, focused and irrepressible.”
Weems has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions at major national and international museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Frist Center for Visual Art, Solomon Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo in Seville, Spain.
Weems has received numerous awards, grants, and fellowships, including the prestigious Prix de Roma, The National Endowment of the Arts, The Alpert, The Anonymous was a Woman, and The Tiffany Awards. In 2012, Weems was presented with one of the first US Department of State’s Medals of Arts in recognition for her commitment to the State Department’s Art in Embassies program.
In 2013 Weems received the MacArthur “Genius” grant as well as the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She has also received the BET Honors Visual Artist award, the Lucie Award for Fine Art photography, was one of four artists honored at the Guggenheim’s 2014 International Gala, a recipient of the ICP Spotlights Award from the International Center of Photography, The WEB Dubois Award from Harvard University, as well as Honorary Degrees from: California College of the Arts, Colgate University, Bowdoin College, the School of Visual Arts and Syracuse University.
She is represented in public and private collections around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Museum of Modern Art, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and The Tate Modern, London.
Weems has been represented by Jack Shainman Gallery since 2008 and is currently Artist in Residence at Syracuse University. She lives in Syracuse, New York with her husband Jeffery Hoone who directed Light Work for almost four decades.
Lectures & Talks sponsored by
We the People: The Radical Notion of Democracy is sponsored by Kenneth C. Griffin.
Learning and engagement programming for We the People: The Radical Notion of Democracy is sponsored by
Sarah and Ross Perot, Jr. Foundation | Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates, & Woodyard, P.L.L.C. | Johnny and Jeanie Morris, Bass Pro Shops | Alturas Foundation | Harriet and Warren Stephens, Stephens Inc. | Sotheby’s | Bob and Becky Alexander | Marybeth and Micky Mayfield | Lamar and Shari Steiger | Jeff and Sarah Teague / Citizens Bank | Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities | Avis and Bill Bailey | Scarlett and Neff Basore | June Carter Family | Terri and Chuck Erwin | Jackye and Curtis Finch | The Harrison and Rhonda French Family | Jim and Susan von Gremp | Laurice Hachem | Shannon and Charles Holley | Valorie and Randy Lawson / Lawco Energy Group | Donna and Mack McLarty | Steve and Susan Nelson | Neal and Gina Pendergraft | Helen Porter | JT and Imelda Rose | Lee and Linda Scott | Stella Boyle Smith Trust, Catherine and Michael Mayton, Trustees | William Reese Company