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The Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy

The Visual Arts: Making Democracy Visible

Weathered American Flag

Visit the pop-up gallery Los Olvidados (The Forgotten) featuring artist Ramiro Gomez on display in Devlin Hall on January 21, 2016.

Thursday, January 21, 2016
6:00 p.m.
Devlin Hall, Room 101


  • Liza Lou
  • Ramiro Gomez
  • Lawrence Weschler
  • Edward Hirsch

Part of "The Arts and the Culture of Democracy" Series.

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about the event


The visual arts draw our attention to the act of seeing and transfigure what is seen in ways that suggest new patterns in our way of relating to each other. Liza Lou, Ramiro Gomez, Lawrence Weschler and Edward Hirsch discuss the role of contemporary visual arts in creating, defining and critiquing the American democratic vision, and in making explicit what is already implicit in the American landscape.


about the speakers


Ed Hirsch. Photo by Julie Dermansky.

Edward Hirsch is an American poet and critic. Hirsch is the recipient of an Academy of Arts and Letters Award, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award, and the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome. In 2008, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. He currently serves as the president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Hirsch’s first collection of poems, For the Sleepwalkers (1981), received the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University and the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets. His second collection, Wild Gratitude (1986), won the National Book Critics Award. Since then, he has published six additional books of poems: The Night Parade (1989), Earthly Measures (1994), On Love (1998), Lay Back the Darkness (2003), Special Orders (2008), and The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems (2010), which brings together thirty-five years of poems. Hirsch is also the author of five prose books, including A Poet’s Glossary (2014), Poet’s Choice (2006), How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry (1999); and is the editor of Theodore Roethke’s Selected Poems (2005) and co-editor of The Making of a Sonnet: A Norton Anthology (2008).

Hirsch has been was awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Hirsch taught for six years in the English department at Wayne State University and seventeen years in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston. Hirsch was educated at Grinnell College and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Ph.D. in Folklore.


Ramiro Gomez

Ramiro Gomez is a Los Angeles-based artist who lives and works in West Hollywood, CA. His works focus on the predominantly Hispanic workforce present behind the imagery of affluence and beauty in California. In 2014, Gomez held his first solo gallery show at the Charlie James Gallery. His exhibition, entitled Domestic Scenes, united three series of paintings in a mediation on class, wealth, and the people behind America’s images of luxury. 

In 2013, Gomez held a solo exhibition at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center entitled Luxury, Interrupted. Also in 2013, he was an artist-in-residence at the CSUF Grand Central Art Center and the City of West Hollywood Park. The origins of Gomez’s work are located in his personal history, as Gomez was born to immigrant parents in Southern California. After leaving the California Institute of the Arts, Gomez worked as a live-in nanny with a Beverly Hills family, where he observed the often-paradoxical relationships between heads of households and their staff. 

Gomez has also exhibited at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the District of Columbia Arts Center at Washington D.C., and the AFL-CIO National Convention. He has guest lectured on his work at Stanford University, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and the AFL-CIO National Convention.


Liza Lou

Liza Lou is an American visual art best known for producing large scale sculptures using glass beads. She held her most recent solo exhibitions at the Wichita Museum of Art and the Neuberger Museum of Art in 2015. She received an Anonymous Was a Woman Artist Award in 2013 and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2002. 

Lou came to prominence with the room-size sculpture Kitchen (1991-1996; permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York), a to-scale and fully equipped replica of a kitchen, covered in beads. This work was followed with Back Yard (1996-1999; permanent collection of the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris), for which Lou enlisted the help of volunteers to recreate grass in a 525-square-foot model of a backyard.

Lou has participated in numerous solo museum exhibits, including at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, SCAD Museum of Art, Museum Kunst Palast in Düsseldorf, Bass Museum of Art in Miami, Aspen Art Museum, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter in Oslo, Santa Monica Museum of Art, and Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona. In 2005, Lou founded a collective with Zulu artisans in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. She lives and works in Los Angeles and KwaZulu-Natal.


Lawrence Weschler

Lawrence Weschler is an American author of works of creative nonfiction. He is a graduate of Cowell College of the University of California at Santa Cruz. He was a staff writer at The New Yorker for over twenty years and was a two-time recipient of the George Polk Award (for Cultural Reporting and Magazine Reporting) and a Lannan Literary Award. He has taught previously at Princeton University, Columbia University, the University of California at Santa Cruz, Bard College, Vassar College, Sarah Lawrence College, and New York University.

Weschler’s books of political reportage include The Passion of Poland (1984), A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers (1990), and Calamities of Exile: Three Nonfiction Novellas (1998). His “Passions and Wonders” series currently comprises Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin (1982); David Hockney’s Cameraworks (1984); Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder (1995), which was shortlisted for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; A Wanderer in the Perfect City: Selected Passion Pieces (1998); Boggs: A Comedy of Values (1999); Robert Irwin: Getty Garden (2002); Vermeer in Bosnia (2004); Everything that Rises: A Book of Convergences (2006), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism in 2007; and Uncanny Valley: Adventures in the Narrative (2011).

Weschler is currently the director emeritus of the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University, where he has been a fellow since 1991, and is the artistic director emeritus with the Chicago Humanities Festival. He is a contributing editor to McSweeney’s, the Threepenny Review, and The Virginina Quarterly Review and recently retired from his position as Chair of the Sundance Documentary Film Festival. He is currently a distinguished writer-in-residence at the Carter Journalism Institute at New York University.