by guest blogger Cindy Grisdela
Would you like to have your art shown in the U.S. Embassy in Paris or Moscow, Ankara or Budapest? It’s easier to do than you might imagine.
Since 1963, the U.S. State Department has run a program called Art in Embassies (AIE) that showcases the work of American artists from various media in exhibits all over the world. There are currently over 200 venues worldwide at U.S. consulates, chanceries and ambassadors’ residences. The aim is to share the diversity of American art with international audiences and cultivate relationships through a shared cultural experience.
“AIE’s exhibitions allow foreign citizens, many of whom might never travel to the United States, to personally experience the depth and breadth of our artistic heritage and values, making what has been called a footprint that can be left where people have no opportunity to see American art,” according a statement from Secretary of State John F. Kerry in the catalog for the exhibition in Indonesia that features one of my contemporary quilts.
Registration for the program is free to U.S. artists and only takes a few minutes to complete.
The first step is to visit this site to familiarize yourself with the AIE program. When you’re ready to join the registry, go here. Alternatively, scroll down to the bottom of this page and click on “Submitting Artwork.” You’ll be prompted to enter basic biographical and contact information, then directed to upload images of your work.
It’s important to realize that this registry is only accessible to the curators in the AIE program, and you are not yet an Art in Embassies artist by submitting your artwork to the registry. You only become an AIE artist once your work is chosen by a curator for an exhibit.
The curators may select one of the images you uploaded to the registry, or they may visit your website to see what other pieces might be available. To improve your chances of having your work chosen, it’s vital that you have a current website with high-quality photographs of your work. And you need to respond promptly to requests for information.
AIE exhibits can be temporary or permanent. Even for a temporary exhibit, your work could be on display for an extended period of time, possibly even years.
Once your work is selected for an AIE exhibit, you will have a place on the AIE website with your name, headshot, artist profile, website, and the exhibition your work is featured in. And you will be able to include your participation in the program on your resume or CV.
There are currently 4,016 artists in the program, including such luminaries as Joseph Albers, Georgia O’Keefe, and Willem De Kooning.
Exhibits are archived on the State Department website with the location, a list of participating artists, and a slide show of the artwork in the exhibit. Sometimes there are installation shots available as well. A catalog is usually published of each exhibit with images of the work selected and biographical information about the artist. And sometimes the artist is selected to visit the country where his or her artwork is shown to give a talk or do a workshop.
It may take some time for your artwork to be selected by a curator. I joined the registry about five years ago, and my work was chosen to be in an AIE exhibit in the fall of 2014. I’m a contemporary art quilter, and one of my pieces is hanging in an exhibit in the public areas of the ambassador’s residence in Dili, Timor Leste in Indonesia. There is a strong fiber art tradition in Indonesia, and the new ambassador there wished to share the work of American fiber artists with people visiting the residence for receptions and other public events. It’s a small exhibit, with just eight artists represented. The work was installed this spring, and will hang in the residence for about 2 1/2 years.
The State Department pays for transporting your work to the venue and insuring it while it is there. An art transport company came to my home to pack the quilt for its journey and send it on its way. There are only small planes that fly into Dili, so one of the requirements of participation was artwork that was less than 24″ wide to fit into the transport crates.
Participation in the AIE program has been a great experience. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to share my work internationally, in a venue that would not be accessible to me any other way. Take a few minutes soon to visit the website and add your work to the registry. You never know what doors it might open!
Visit Cindy Grisdela’s website here.