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This program is online only (via ZoomYouTube, and Facebook Live). Advance registration is required for Zoom participation, including the chance to ask the artist a question (time permitting). After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the talk.

Join artist Deborah Roberts, poet and artist Cleo Wade, and Hirshhorn Assistant Curator Betsy Johnson to explore the transformative and healing powers of creativity.

Roberts and Wade make different kinds of creative gestures – Roberts most often uses the power of images and Wade the power of words – but through their work, they each share a message of hope, resilience, and a greater future for women and people of color. Roberts creates powerful, collaged portraits of girls and boys in an effort to challenge standard “ideals” of beauty and emphasize the important message that “every child has character and agency to find their own way amidst the complicated narratives of American, African American and art history.” Likewise, Wade’s popular Instagram account (@cleowade) and published books are full of poetry, affirmations, and illustratations that encourage readers to remain hopeful through the challenges of daily life.

This program is inspired by the work of Yayoi Kusama and the Hirshhorn’s current exhibition One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection.

The program is made possible with generous support from and is presented in partnership with La Grande Dame by Veuve Clicquot. The partnership is a continuation of the storied French champagne House’s commitment to supporting creative voices and its longstanding relationship with the visionary artist, who lent her signature dot motif to the La Grande Dame 2012 cuveé.

La Grande Dame invited renowned poet and artist Cleo Wade to bring her own vision of optimism and joy to Washington, D.C. Her poem celebrates audacious women, and encapsulates the bold spirit of Madame Clicquot.

Read “What Comes After Darkness”


12:50 pm EST | Zoom broadcast opens

1 pm EST | Cleo Wade and Deborah Roberts in conversation with Betsy Johnson


Deborah Roberts in studio setting

Deborah Roberts is a mixed media artist whose work challenges the notion of ideal beauty. Her work has been exhibited internationally across the USA and Europe. Roberts’ work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York; Brooklyn Museum, New York, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, New York; LACMA, Los Angeles, California; the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia and the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas, among several other institutions. She was selected to participate in the Robert Rauschenberg Residency (2019) and was a finalist for the 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, as well as the recipient of the Anonymous Was A Woman Grant (2018), and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (2016). Roberts received her MFA from Syracuse University, New York. She lives and works in Austin, Texas. Roberts is represented by Stephen Friedman Gallery, London and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, CA.

Poet and writer Cleo Wade. Dressed in pink, squatting in an infinity room.

Cleo Wade is a writer, poet, and the New York Times Best-selling author of What The Road Said, Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life, and Where To Begin: A Small Book about Your Power to Create Big Change. Her work is dedicated to exploring love, freedom, self-care and the power of community. She has been called the poet of her generation by Time Magazine, named one of the 100 most creative people in business by Fast Company, and sits on the board of The Lower East Side Girls Club, the National Black Theatre in Harlem, and the Women’s Prison Association. Cleo is from New Orleans, Louisiana and currently lives in California with her family.

This program and One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection have been made possible with generous support from La Grande Dame by Veuve Clicquot. Champagne La Grand Dame Veuve Clicquot


May 27, 2022
1:00 pm–2:00 pm
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Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
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