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Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Renée Fleming and Theaster Gates Named 2016 Harman-Eisner Artists in Residence at Aspen Institute

Renée Fleming and Theaster Gates Named 2016 Harman-Eisner Artists in Residence at Aspen Institute

Artists to participate in 2016 Aspen Ideas Festival

WASHINGTON, June 7, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Aspen Institute Arts Program is pleased to announce that soprano and musical ambassador Renée Fleming and artist and activist Theaster Gates will serve as its 2016 Harman-Eisner Artists in Residence. In this role, Fleming and Gates will participate at the Aspen Ideas Festival (June 26 - July 2) and engage in Institute activities throughout the year in New York, Washington, DC, and elsewhere.

"I am thrilled to welcome Renée Fleming and Theaster Gates as Artists-in-Residence for the Aspen Institute," said Damian Woetzel, director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program. "Over the past years we have collaborated on projects working to expand the opportunities for good work through the arts, and now I look forward to this tremendous opportunity to focus our work together on the issues we face today."

Renée Fleming captivates audiences with her sumptuous soprano voice and consummate artistry. Known as "the people's diva," Fleming is a 2013 recipient of the National Medal of Arts and a four-time Grammy winner. As a musical statesman she has performed at the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the 2008 Olympics, the Brandenburg Gate to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the 2012 Diamond Jubilee Concert. In 2008 she became the first woman in the 125-year history of the Metropolitan Opera to solo headline an opening night gala. An advocate for literacy, Renée Fleming has been featured in promotional campaigns for the Association of American Publishers and on the READ poster campaign for the American Library Association. Renée is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Hall Corporation, the Board of Sing for Hope, the Board of Trustees of Asia Society, and the Artistic Advisory Board of the Polyphony Foundation. In 2010, she was named the first-ever Creative Consultant at Lyric Opera of Chicago, where she is also a member of the Board and a Vice President.

"It is such an honor to join the dialogue at the Aspen Institute as a Harman-Eisner Artist in Residence," said Fleming. "Aspen was my training ground and the place where I nurtured my grandest dreams about life and Art, so it's fitting that I would return to share my current passions so many years later. My work these past five years at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and now just beginning at the Kennedy Center, is an expression of the concepts most important to me now: how arts institutions can serve the communities they inhabit, expand programming, and develop audiences with new initiatives. I'm thrilled to share the stage with Chicago colleague, Theaster Gates, who has been an inspiration to me and to many others."

Chicago-based artist, musician, and activist Theaster Gates works to stretch the idea of what we understand visual art to be. Trained as both a sculptor and an urban planner, his work is rooted in social responsibility. Gates is the founder of the Rebuild Foundation and a Professor in the Department of Visual Arts, University of Chicago. For his most acclaimed work, Dorchester Projects, Gates transformed a cluster of buildings on Chicago's South Side into alternative cultural spaces that now serve as vibrant centers of community life. Last fall he opened the Stony Island Arts Bank on the South Side, a platform for site-specific contemporary art commissions and exhibitions, a venue for artist and scholar residencies, and a home for Rebuild's archives and collections. It serves as a space for neighborhood residents to preserve, access, re-imagine, and share their heritage--and as a destination for artists, scholars, curators, and collectors to research and engage with South Side history.

"The Aspen Ideas Festival is always a time when some of the greatest minds living come together to think out loud," Gates said. "I hope that in participating, I'm able to more clearly articulate the things I believe in while deepening the relationships that have become key to my successes."

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 Memphis jookin master Lil Buck, actress Alfre Woodard, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, director Julie Taymor, architect Elizabeth Diller, 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.

"Renee Fleming and Theaster Gates are not just two of the most amazing, thoughtful, and inspiring artists we have working in America today. They also have proven track records of using their art to unify people of all ages, races, and economic backgrounds," said Michael D. Eisner, Institute trustee and chair of its Committee on the Arts. "I couldn't be more thrilled to have them join us as Harman-Eisner artists-in-residence at the Aspen Institute in 2016."

Artists are selected and invited by the Aspen Institute Arts Program. Inquiries should be directed to Aidan Flax-Clark at (212) 895-8017 or

The Aspen Institute Arts Program was established to support and invigorate the arts in America, and to return the arts to the center of the Aspen Institute's "Great Conversation." Directed by Damian Woetzel, it brings together artists, advocates, educators, managers, foundations, and government officials to exchange ideas and develop policies and programs that strengthen the reciprocal relationship between the arts and society. For more information, visit and follow @AspenInstArts on Twitter.

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

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SOURCE The Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute

CONTACT: Aidan Flax-Clark, 212.895.8017,

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