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MAM Conversations
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Grab a drink and join us for an evening of conversation!

MAM Conversations presented by the Babson Lecture Series give you the unique opportunity to virtually engage with diverse contemporary artists, see their studio spaces, and learn more about their work all from the comfort of your home. Closed captioning is provided.

After registration, you should receive a confirmation email containing the link to access the event online. MAM Conversations presented by the Babson Lecture Series will take place via Zoom Webinars.
Natalie Frank

Thursday, December 3, 2020, 6 p.m.

Natalie Frank’s vibrant, visceral paintings use the figure to tell the story of what it means to be human. She explores issues of identity, femininity, and sexuality through work that toes the line between reality and the surreal. Join MAM Conversations as we talk with Frank in her New York studio.  We’ll discuss her dynamic painting in MAM’s collection, Woman under Window (2014) and new pulp paper paintings.

Photo: Olly Young

Head shot of natalie frank in her studio. She is seated and looking off to the left.
Kay WalkingStick

Thursday, November 5, 2020, 6 p.m.

Join MAM’s Chief Curator Gail Stavitsky for a conversation with renowned artist Kay WalkingStick. Through the lens of her own Native identity, WalkingStick combines Modernist abstraction and landscape painting to explore feminism, connection to the land, and her own personal history. We’ll be discussing WalkingStick’s work in MAM’s collection, her blockbuster retrospective Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist organized by the National Museum of the American Indian, and recent projects.

Photo: © 2014 Julia Maloof Verderosa

a Headhsot photo of Kay WalkingStick by Julia Maloof Verderosa.
Upcoming Speakers

●    December 3, 6 p.m. – Natalie Frank ➜

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This series is funded, in part, by a generous perpetual gift from the Julia Norton Babson Memorial Fund.
Recent artist speakers
I'm an image! Federico Uribe in front of one of his works: an installation of Plastic Coral Reef.

Federico Uribe

On June 11, 2020, the first evening of MAM Conversations featured Miami-based artist, Federico Uribe in conversation with Adam Adelson, Director of Adelson Galleries. Uribe invited us into his studio, showing us where he turns bullet shells, coat hangers, books, and other objects into magically life-like sculptures. We were among the first to see one of Uribe’s newest works, The Veteran, comprised of hundreds of medical instruments. 

I'm an image! Portrait of Philemona Williamson in her studio. She is looking off to the right with her chin resting on her hand.

Philemona Williamson

On June 18, 2020, we virtually visited Philemona Williamson in her studio, discovering her inspiration, motivation, and next works. Williamson’s colorful, enigmatic paintings explore moments of transition and ambiguous spaces. Suspended on large canvases, Williamson’s figures float between childhood and adulthood, and along the sliding spectrum of race and gender.


Tom Nussbaum sitting in his home


Tom Nussbaum

Tom Nussbaum’s sculpture Listen is one of the most recognizable works in MAM’s collection – and one you can still see if you take a socially-distanced stroll through the museum grounds. Nussbaum used fiberglass to create Listen and has recently experimented with welded steel and epoxy to create colorful, energetic 2D and 3D sculptures. On June 25, MAM Conversations virtually traveled to Nussbaum’s studio in East Orange and explored the new work he’s been creating over the past few months, as well as earlier works from his Home Sweet Home exhibition at MAM in 2003.



I'm an image! Virgil Ortiz sculpting clay by hand in his studio. Ortiz is focused on his work and not looking at the camera.


Virgil Ortiz 

Revolutionary multi-media artist Virgil Ortiz is the current artist in residence at MAM. Especially once the sun sets, his installation Odyssey of the Venutian Soldiers illuminates the Laurie Art Stairway, which is visible from outside the museum building at the corner of Bloomfield Ave. and St. Luke’s Place.  On Juny 2, MAM Conversations virtually visited Ortiz in New Mexico to discuss his ever-growing, futuristic retelling of the 1680 Pueblo Revolt and how he is adding to the story. Curator Emeritus of Virgil Ortiz: Odyssey of the Venutian Soldiers, Pamela Jardine, will provide an introduction.


a headshot of willie cole


Willie Cole

On July 9, MAM Conversations joined Willie Cole and moderator Rosalind Murphy, of the Museum’s African American Cultural Committee, for a discussion with renowned local artist Willie Cole.  Cole’s imaginative assemblages and prints turning mundane consumer items into powerful vehicles for social critique. Using found objects such as irons, ironing boards, and high-heeled shoes, Cole transforms these items through repetitive use to address issues of cultural appropriation and identity.


a headshot of Alexis Rockman at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Alexis Rockman

Alexis Rockman blends reality and fantasy to examine humanity’s relationship with the environment.  His eerily dystopian canvases are both recognizable and disorienting, and express concern about global warming, the fragility of the world’s ecosystems, and the impact of human activity on earth. On July 16, MAM Conversations talked with Rockman about his recent watercolors and how his monumental painting Pond Life has inspired new work.  Pond Life will be on view when the museum reopens as part of the permanent collection exhibition Uncaged: Animals in the Collection.

Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.





A photo of Joyce Scott in her living room.

Joyce J. Scott

Joyce J. Scott is best known for creating intricately beaded sculptures and jewelry that draw inspiration from West African Yoruba weaving techniques and Native American beadwork. Scott confronts issues of racism, sexism, and cultural stereotypes with work that is often personal, and seeks to provide spiritual healing in the face of all that divides us. MAM Conversations visited Scott in her Baltimore studio on July 23, 2020 to find out what she’s been working on over the past few months.  The conversation was moderated by Patterson Sims, former director of the Montclair Art Museum and co-curator of the major survey exhibition Joyce J. Scott: Harriet Tubman and Other Truths which was featured at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey in 2017-18.   

Scholastic National Winners from the Northern New Jersey Region

Scholastic National Winners from the Northern New Jersey Region

Join us for an evening in conversation with some of northern NJ’s most accomplished teen artists and national winners of the Scholastic Art Awards: Adem Gjonbalag, Diana Welch, Gabrielle Stoller, and Sarah Lorito. We will discuss their work, their inspirations, and how their creative process has been influenced by the pandemic. Executive Director of the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, Christopher Wisniewski, will also join the panel. For almost 100 years, the Alliance has identified and recognized teenagers with exceptional artistic talent; this year marked MAM’s 11th as region affiliate for the Scholastic Art Awards.


Vanessa German

Vanessa German

Multi-media artist, poet, performer, and activist Vanessa German sees art and love as powerful tools to unify communities and bring about change. She is the founder of Love Front Porch and the ARThouse, a community arts initiative, in her neighborhood of Homewood in Pittsburgh.  German is known for using found objects to create highly embellished sculptures known as Power Figures, recently on display in the lobby of 45 Rockefeller Plaza. These Power Figures deal with issues of injustice, violence, and identity.  Join us as we visit German in her studio to discuss her recent work, including the new mixed media assemblage Can I Love You Without Capitalism? How? (2019). Museum Art Committee member and collector Jonathan Simon will serve as moderator.

A black and white photo portrait of Vik Muniz laughing

Vik Muniz

On July 30, we spent the evening with artist Vik Muniz in his studio in Brazil. Blurring the lines of “fine” art, Muniz is known for his recreations of classic artworks works using everyday materials from chocolate and sugar to junk and toys, which he then photographs. His layered, intricate works transform the mundane and comment on economic inequality, the art historical canon, and popular culture.  We’ll talk with Vik about Doubting Thomas (2000) and The Stone Breakers, after Gustave Courbet (Pictures of Magazines 2) (2013), two photographs in museum’s collection, as well as new work.


headshot image of artist cara romero

Cara Romero

Cara Romero’s dramatic photographs blend traditions, mysticism, and spirituality with the often-difficult realities of contemporary Native American life. Using photography as a tool, Romero highlights the diversity and resilience of a thriving Indigenous culture. On August 27, MAM Conversations visited Romero’s New Mexico studio to talk about her unique perspective and new projects. Art Committee member, artist, and collector Jennifer Ley will moderate the conversation. Romero’s photograph Coyote Tales No. 1 (2018) will be on view when the museum reopens as part of the permanent collection exhibition Uncaged: Animals in the Collection.


Kris Graves

Kris Graves

On September 3, MAM Conversations spent the evening with photographer Kris Graves, who will be joining us from shooting on the road.  Graves is known for portraiture, landscapes and award-winning photo books that preserve memories of people and places, and create opportunities for conversation about race, representation, and urban life.  His stunning Testament Project series resituates people of color in the canon of fine art portraiture. Join us as we discuss these projects and recent work.


Headshot of artist Walton Ford.

Walton Ford

Walton Ford’s large watercolors and prints draw inspiration from John James Audubon and other 19th century naturalists. Often depicting animals that are extinct, Ford relies on a similar realism to Audubon, but infuses his work with satire and socio-political commentary.  On October 1, 2020, MAM Conversations discussed La Historia Me Absolvera, now on view at museum, and never before seen recent works.

MAM Conversations with the AACC: Art, Family & Legacy

Thursday, October 8, 6 p.m.

Join us for a celebration of Art, Family & Legacy, an animated conversation of how family influences art. USA Today national business correspondent Charisse Jones moderates discussion of four acclaimed artists of how their art passed from generation to generation. 

collage of the speakers and moderator for the event