Crystal Bridges is open Wed. through Mon. Reserve your free, timed tickets.

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Crystal Bridges is open Wed. through Mon. Reserve your free, timed tickets.

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Learn More >

2017 Distinguished Speaker Series

The Distinguished Speaker Series at Crystal Bridges invites visitors to hear from internationally acclaimed leaders who inspire new ways of thinking about art, architecture, and nature.

This year’s exceptional lineup includes artist Marina Abramović; fashionistas Lisa Perry and Yvonne Force Villareal; Chef’s Table creators David Gelb and Brian McGinn; musician Jason Moran; artist Lynda Benglis; and artist Carrie Mae Weems.

$10 ($8
for Members)

Register online or by calling
Guest Services at 479.657.2335.
Great Hall

Sold Out - Artist Marina Abramović

Friday, March 24, 7 to 8 pm

Marina Abramović is a pioneer in the world of performance art. Her career has spanned five decades and her work explores the relationship between artist and audience, pushing the limits and boundaries of the physical and mental. In the 2010 MOMA retrospective, The Artist is Present, a team of trained artists re-performed Abramovic’s seminal performances, some of which with her former partner Ulay, while Abramović herself sat at a small table as museum visitors waited to sit across from her. Like so much of her work, the performance was a major feat of endurance: the artist sat stationary every day for three months. Abramović is the founder of the Marina Abramović Institute (MAI), a platform for immaterial and long-durational work, and the author of the memoir: Walk Through Walls.

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Fashionistas Lisa Perry and Yvonne Force Villareal

Thursday, April 20, 7 to 8 pm

Join us for a conversation between two of New York City’s most prominent art-fashion mavens, friends and collaborators Lisa Perry and Yvonne Force Villareal. Designer Lisa Perry is a style fixture who continually takes her appreciation of the design of the 60s to new heights. She blends her love of vintage fashion with her love of collecting modern art, including works by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Yvonne Force Villareal is the co-founder of the Art Production Fund, an organization that commissions ambitious public art projects with the aim of reaching wider audiences and expanding awareness through contemporary art. The fund works to reduce the physical as well as the psychic distance of cultural, class, linguistic, racial, and income barriers that may hinder participation in contemporary art.


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Sold Out - Chef’s Table Creators David Gelb and Brian McGinn

Friday, July 14, 7 to 8 pm

Meet David Gelb and Brian McGinn, creators of the popular Netflix series Chef’s Table ! After making the critically-acclaimed documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, director David Gelb had his own dream: a Jiro-style television series that would profile amazing chefs from all around the world. Partnering with Brian McGinn (Netflix's Amanda Knox), David's dream spurred Chef’s Table, a docu-series bringing the passion of the world’s top chefs to life with miraculous artistry. Gelb and McGinn will share stories behind the hit show that “makes dining look like a walk through a great art gallery” (The Wall Street Journal) and discuss how exploring the personal lives of the greatest chefs has helped them uncover the passion and creative inspiration behind the most exciting and delicious food in the world.

Musician Jason Moran

Thursday, September 21, 7 to 8 pm

Jason Moran is a musician who has established himself as a risk taker and innovator of new directions for jazz. The Artistic Director of Jazz at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Moran was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2010. For this special lecture, Moran will present short jazz performances to punctuate his talk. Similar to the way the artworks in the exhibition Stuart Davis: In Full Swing (on view September 16, 2017 through January 1, 2018) were inspired by jazz, Moran’s work is frequently influenced by visual art, including works by twentieth-century painters like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Egon Schiele, and Robert Rauschenberg. Moran has also collaborated with contemporary artists in other disciplines. He scored a ballet for renowned choreographer Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, and has also scored video works for contemporary American artists Glenn Ligon and Kara Walker. His ongoing visionary collaborations in the art world have brought Moran additional fans and respect.

Artist Lynda Benglis

Friday, November 3, 7 to 8 pm

Lynda Benglis is an artist whose artwork Eat Meat is in Crystal Bridges’ permanent collection. Benglis was first recognized in the late sixties for her poured latex and foam works during a time when the art world was dominated and controlled by male artists. Benglis’s work generally exists in an indefinable space between painting and sculpture, and explores metaphorical and biomorphic shapes as well as the materiality of the surface. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and two National Endowment for the Arts grants, among other commendations. Benglis’s work is in extensive public collections including: the Solomon Guggenheim Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

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Artist Carrie Mae Weems

Friday, December 8, 7 to 8 pm

Artist Carrie Mae Weems is considered one of the most influential contemporary American artists today. Crystal Bridges recently acquired the artist’s photograph series The Kitchen Table, which was on view in the 2016 temporary exhibition Black Unity. Weems’s work investigates family relationships, cultural identity, sexism, class, political systems, and the consequences of power. She has developed a complex body of artwork employing photographs, text, fabric, audio, digital images, installation, and video. In a recent review of her retrospective in The New York Times, 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, and the Solomon Guggenheim Museum in New York. She has received many awards, including the MacArthur “Genius” Grant in 2013 as well as the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

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View our past Distinguished Speaker Series lines ups and videos.

Past Line Ups

American Sign Language interpretation is provided for all distinguished speaker programs. For preferred seating, please contact us at [email protected] or 479-418-5724 (voice). Relay or voice calls welcome.

The Distinguished Speaker Series is sponsored by Del Monte Foods, Inc.