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.

Charles Gaines is a pioneering figure in conceptual art, with almost fifty years creating widely-celebrated works that employ self-determined formulas and procedures to interrogate the limits of representation, language, and identity politics. Initially recognized for mathematical- and grid-based works on paper, Gaines has expanded his practice in recent decades to include sound, installation, and performance as he continues to mine the possibilities of artworks premised not in self-expression, but rather in methodical systems and processes. Walnut Tree Orchard: Set 13 and Walnut Tree Orchard: Set 14, in the Hirshhorn’s collection, are part of a series initiated in 1973 that bring together photographs and drawings of a tree, with each iteration generated, in part, by the works that came before it. Gaines applies similar rules in his newest series of trees, Numbers and Trees: London Series 1 (2020-2021), that call into question both the objective nature of the trees within them and the subjective natural and material human actions that surround them. In Numbers and Faces: Multi-Racial/Ethnic Combinations Series 1 (2020), Gaines mathematically layered the faces of people who self-identified as multi-racial or multi-ethnic to interrogate ideas of representation, more specifically the political and cultural ideas that shape one’s understanding of the concept of multi-racial identity. Manifestos (2008-2020) sets the words from political manifestos to atonal music using a system of assigning letters to different music notes.

Gaines joins Hirshhorn senior curator Evelyn Hankins to discuss his expansive practice questioning systems of meaning and representation, as well as his longtime tenure as a faculty member at California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles.

6:50 pm EDT | Zoom broadcast opens
7 pm EDT | Charles Gaines in conversation with Evelyn Hankins

ASL translation will be provided on Zoom and CART (real-time captioning) will be provided across all platforms. If you have any questions about accessibility for this program, please email

This virtual event is part of Talking to Our Time. the Hirshhorn’s online series of free artist talks featuring a diverse group of artists and collectives. View all events!

Image: Charles Gaines ©Charles Gaines. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth, Photo by Fredrik Nilsen