An installation by the DC-based artist Avish Khebrehzadeh (Iranian American, b. 1969) on the Concourse Level of the East Building will include a large-scale drawing made in situ, Tree of Life in Blue, as well as Seven Silent Songs, a video animation featuring humans and animals alternating in procession to create a poetic cycle. Khebrehzadeh's animations of horses, rhinos, jellyfish, and people moving through fluid natural scenes are made of thousands of drawings on sheets of paper. The serene work engages with questions of migration, climate change, and human nature.
Khebrehzadeh's work has been featured in solo exhibitions worldwide, including Rome's Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo (MAXXI), in group shows, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and in the biennials of Istanbul, Santa Fe, Liverpool, and Venice, where in 2003 she received the Golden Lion Award for best young artist working in Italy. Her work is in held in the public collections of the Albertina Museum, Vienna; Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporaneo, Turin; Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania; Museo d'Arte Contemporanea di Roma; and MAXXI. The artist's work is often inspired by her own experience of migration, from her native Iran to Italy, Madagascar, the United Kingdom, and finally the United States.
Organization and Support
The installations by Cain and Khebrehzadeh were organized by Molly Donovan, curator of contemporary art, National Gallery of Art, Washington. The installation by Kay Rosen was organized by Paige Rozanski, curatorial associate in the department of modern and contemporary art, National Gallery of Art, Washington.
The installations were made possible by the Bernstein Family Foundation and The Tower Project of the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Additional in-kind support for the production of Seven Silent Songs was provided by Daniel Sallick and the Subject Matter Agency.
East Building Renovations and Reopening
The East and West Buildings of the National Gallery of Art are home to thousands of masterpieces, as well as significant works of architecture in their own right. To preserve these historic buildings and improve their accessibility, energy efficiency, and infrastructure, the museum is committed to its Master Facilities Plan, an ongoing, phased approach to long-term repair, restoration, and renovation.
Major renovations to the north side of the East Building were completed in 2016. Since 2019, additional work has been underway to improve accessibility throughout the building, to overhaul select building systems, to renovate the galleries on the west side, and to replace the Atrium skylight, which is original to the building and over 40 years old. The skylight replacement work is currently underway; an elaborate system of sliding platforms has been installed to move glass panels, and a suspended platform installed beneath the skylight allows construction workers to facilitate the glass replacement and reinstall various electrical systems safely while also protecting visitors and works of art. The Atrium skylight replacement project will be complete by early 2022. Accessibility improvements to the main entrance, elevator lobby, and restrooms on the Ground Floor and Mezzanine are also underway and will be complete by fall 2021. Additional improvements include new flooring, lighting, and laylights for Tower 3 and the west galleries on the Upper Level. For more information on East Building renovations, visit nga.gov/renovations.
This phase of renovation work was designed around the priority of remaining open to the public throughout construction. The East Building has been closed since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Once the East Building reopens later this year, most of the galleries, the Atrium, and other public locations will be available for visitors to enjoy.