A Conversation on Creativity + Defiance in American Art

collage of human male body parts and a non-human face

Rashaad Newsome, Thirst Trap (detail), 2020. Collage on paper in custom mahogany and resin artist frame with automotive paint, 45 1/4 x 43 11/16 x 4 1/2 in. (114.935 x 110.966 x 11.43 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, a gift from the Svane Family Foundation, 2022.26.24a-b. Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco. Photograph by Randy Dodson

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This conversation explores the role of the artist, producing creative work, and meaning-making in the face of threats to freedom of expression.

Featured speakers:

  • American Artist
  • Diedrick Brackens
  • Rashaad Newsome

Moderated by Devin Malone, director of public programs and community engagement at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. 

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collage of human male body parts and a non-human face

About the speakers 

American Artist (they/them) makes thought experiments that mine the history of technology, race, and knowledge production, beginning with their legal name change in 2013. Their artwork primarily takes the form of sculpture, software, and video, and it has been featured in New York Times, Cultured, Artforum, and Art in America. They have exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Museum of Modern Art; Studio Museum in Harlem; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland; and Nam June Paik Art Center, Seoul.

Rashaad Newsome (he/him) works at the intersection of art, film, performance, music, technology, and community organizing. Rashaad’s work has been exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Park Avenue Armory, and the Whitney, New York City; the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and Hayward Gallery, London. Awards he’s received include: 2023 ITVS Documentary Film Funding, the 2022 Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica Award, a 2021 Knight Arts + Tech Fellowship, a 2020/2022 Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence artist residency, and the 2017 Pollock-Krasner Foundation award.

Diedrick Brackens (he/him) (b. 1989 in Mexia, Texas) explores the intersections of identity and sociopolitical issues by creating handwoven tapestries that reexamine allegory and narrative through material, autobiography, and the broader themes of African American and queer identity, American history, and memory. Brackens’ recent solo shows include his first European show at Kestner Gesellschaft, Germany, as well as shows at the Mint Museum, North Carolina; Craft Contemporary, Los Angeles; Blanton Museum of Art, Texas; Oakville Galleries, Canada; and the New Museum, New York. He is the recipient of the US Artist Fellowship, 2021; Louis Tiffany Comfort Grant, 2019; Marciano Artadia Award, 2019; Textile Society of America’s Brandford/Elliot Award For Excellence in Fiber Art, 2018; and the Studio Museum in Harlem’s Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize, 2018.

Devin Malone (they/them) is a cultural producer based in California, and joined the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco as the director of public programs and community engagement in 2022. They have developed and produced education programs at Dia Art Foundation, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Studio Museum in Harlem in New York City, as well as Gallery 400, Threewalls, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Always in collaboration, they develop engagement programs that prioritize sustained reciprocal relationships with historically underserved artists and communities.

About Lunder Institute @

Lunder Institute @, an initiative of the Colby College Museum of Art’s Lunder Institute for American Art, invites thought leaders at the nation’s most prominent art institutions to engage publicly with a single question: What is the state of American art? These convenings promote discourse leading toward innovation, new areas of exploration, and possible answers to questions around what American art is and what impacts its production, scholarship, and research.

About the Lunder Institute for American Art

A collaborative initiative of the Colby College Museum of Art, located in central Maine, the Lunder Institute for American Art supports innovative research and creative production that expands the boundaries of American art. The Lunder Institute invites visiting artists, scholars, and museum professionals to engage across disciplines with Colby faculty and students, the College’s network of institutional partners, leading experts, and other creative collaborators. Through fellowships, workshops, symposia, and incubator grants, the Lunder Institute amplifies marginalized voices, challenges convention, and provides a platform for generative dialogue through art and scholarship.

Ticket info

Free. Seating is limited and unassigned. Tickets for the discussion are distributed in front of the Koret Auditorium at 10:30 am, first come, first served. This does not include admission to the museum. 


Lunder Institute @ the de Young museum was made possible through the support and partnership of the Lunder Institute for American Art, the Colby College Museum of Art.

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