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Artist Tsedaye Makonnen shares insight into her interdisciplinary, research-based practice, which manifests primarily as sculpture and performance. She weaves together her identity as a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants and a black American woman while exploring the blurring between and transience of borders and identities, often using her body as the conduit and the material. Further creating new visual language that portrays our geographic and ancestral connectivity across manufactured borders and circumstances, her work is an abstracted participatory intervention—drawing from Ethiopian and Eritrean universal and spiritual codes reflected across the African diaspora—that is both an intimate memorialization and protective sanctuary for black lives. Her roles as a mother and former doula have been instrumental in her visual language as well.

Seating in the Lobby will be first-come, first-served.

Dolcezza Coffee & Gelato will open at 8:45 AM.


About the Artist

Tsedaye Makonnen’s artistic practice recently includes a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, a DC Public Library Maker Residency, a DC Oral History Grant, and a Savage-Lewis Artist Residency in Martha’s Vineyard. She has performed at the Venice Biennale, Art Basel Miami, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, El Museo del Barrio, the Queens Museum, the Festival International d’Art Performance in Martinique, the Chale Wote Street Art Festival in Ghana, the Fendika Cultural Center in Ethiopia, and more. This year, she has taken part in speaking engagements across the country connecting migration and intersectional feminism at NYU, DPLAFest in Chicago, Common Field, Black Portraiture,s and more. Her current body of work is a multimedia installation of light sculptures, printmaking, performance, video, and photography. It has been exhibited at the August Wilson Cultural Center in Pittsburgh, the National Gallery of Art, and at Carroll Square Gallery in DC. She is featured as one of 19 individuals who make life more interesting in DC in the 2019 edition of Washington City Paper’s annual People Issue. Makonnen lives in Washington, DC, with her 9-year-old son.


February 7, 2020
9:00 am–10:00 am
Event Category:


Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Hirshhorn Museum, Independence Ave SW & 7th St SW
Washington, DC 20560 United States
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Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
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Location detail
Meet in the lobby