Thursday, January 16, 2020

Dr. Heran Sereke-Brhan for Nominated for DCAAH Executive Director

Yesterday, at the regular monthly meeting of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (CAH), members voted to nominate Dr. Heran Sereke-Brhan to be the next executive director for CAH.

"This is a historic moment for the Commission as we select our first executive director as an independent agency within the District of Columbia government," said Kay Kendall, Chair of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. "The Commission appreciates the great work that Heran has done during her time as interim executive director. She understands the agency and the challenges of the position from an on the ground perspective, but more importantly, she sees the opportunities for success. Heran is positive in her forward-thinking and is always focused on working as a team to develop the artistic and cultural community, and serving the residents of the District of Columbia." 

Dr. Sereke-Brhan has served as the agency's Interim Executive Director since October 2019, and has been Senior Grants Officer for CAH since July 2017. Prior to joining CAH, she served as Deputy Director for the Mayor's Office on African Affairs. Over the past two decades, Interim Director Sereke-Brhan has worked at a number of cultural and educational institutions, including the Harn Museum at the University of Florida, Addis Ababa University, and the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art. She holds a PhD in History with a minor in African Art History from Michigan State University.

CAH is the designated state arts agency for the District of Columbia, providing grants and other programs aimed at encouraging progress in the arts and humanities in Washington, DC. The executive director serves as the Commission's chief administrative officer, and is responsible for the daily management of the agency's operations and staff. Over 100 applications for the position were received by Polihire, the executive recruitment firm that assisted in the search. 

The nomination of CAH's executive director is subject to the advice and consent of the Council of the District of Columbia. Dr. Sereke-Brhan will serve as acting executive director until her appointment is confirmed by the DC Council. 

American University opening

Communicating Vessels: Ed Bisese, Elyse Harrison, Wayne Paige features recent artwork by three Washington, D.C.-area artists. Opening Reception: 6 to 9 p.m., Jan. 25. Free and open to all - at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center.

Harrison and Bisese’s work are acrylic paintings and Paige’s includes oil paintings and pen and ink drawings. While their work shows continuity with Surrealist ideas of the 1930s and 40s, it is also related to the Chicago Imagists of the 1960s and 70s and reflects the prevalence of surrealist imagery in contemporary visual art.

For Harrison, the paintings in this exhibition represent a departure from much of her previous work, both in style and content.  

While there will be three large paintings by Bisese from his ongoing series featuring the “Bunnyman” character, the exhibit will be a first exposition of a series of smaller, more abstract paintings with a bird-like creature personifying various characters. Paige continues working with his “celestial inkwell” in small drawings selected from different series that represent his signature “clothespin” figures in a strange and dangerous world.  

Closes March 15. 

Presented by the Alper Initiative for Washington Art and curated by Claudia Rousseau, Ph.D.  Free Parking: Communicating Vessels, 5:30 to 7 p.m., March 5. 

Curator Claudia Rousseau will join the three D.C.-based, Surrealist-inspired artists in conversation. 

Free and open to all; please RSVP to