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Art on Campus: Aspen Ideas Festival 2024

The 20th year of the Aspen Ideas Festival highlights intellectual exploration, artistic expression and boundless innovation.

  • June 18th 2024

20 Years of Ideas

As the backdrop for the Aspen Ideas Festival for two decades, the Aspen Institute’s Meadows campus has been a catalyst for transformative conversations and groundbreaking ideas. The Meadows boasts a rich legacy of Bauhaus-inspired design and hosts an impressive collection of artworks, each piece a testament to the creative spirit that permeates this campus. Learn more about this creative legacy and the Festival speakers who have embodied it — look for kiosks across campus celebrating 20 years of intellectual exploration, artistic expression and boundless innovation.

Art Installations

We’re thrilled to be hosting exclusive installations from some of the world’s most brilliant artists.

‘The Embrace’ by Hank Willis Thomas

Located in the Marble Garden Lawn

When conceptualizing a large-scale monument to Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, Hank Willis Thomas reflected upon the King legacy and one image — one idea — emerged above the others: Embrace. On multiple occasions, the Kings embraced on the frontlines of a march. A monument that captures this gesture declares that love is the ultimate weapon against injustice. In evoking the love between the Kings and their commitment to each other, their community and country, “The Embrace” is about what we share, not what sets us apart. It shifts the emphasis from singular hero worship to collective action. This exhibition is a domestic-sized version of the large-scale public monument in Boston Commons, unveiled in January 2023.

Conditions of Confinement: The Writing on the Wall and Architecture of Incarceration

Located in Anderson Park

On view at Aspen Ideas for the first time is a collaboration between “The Writing on the Wall” and the Architecture of Incarceration, a project by Baz Dreisinger of Incarcerations Nations Network, Michael Murphy Studio, Open Box and Aspen Institute 2024 Harman/Eisner Artist-in-Residence Hank Willis Thomas. This artwork features essays, poems, letters, stories, diagrams and notes written by people in prison around the world and housed within a framework inspired by the architecture of incarceration and history of prisons. INN uses “The Writing on the Wall” as an artistic soapbox for justice partners. This site-specific installation is supported by artist-led organization For Freedoms.

‘Bambú’ by the Starn Brothers

This art project will be erected in Anderson Park June 25, 26 and 27

Above the path through Anderson Park, witness the creation of a tower made of 800 bamboo poles with the collective effort of 17 individuals, lashing together this intricate structure without tools, scaffolds or even a plan. This unique sculpture grows organically and randomly, with each crew member adding their own ideas. Mike and Doug Starn’s “Bambú” series is a performance of interdependence, highlighting the power and beauty of people working together to create something truly remarkable.

Remember Rebuild Renew: Lighting the Path Forward

Located in the Paepcke Lobby

On October 27, 2018, an avowed antisemite and xenophobe murdered 11 Jews at prayer in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history. At the site of this mass shooting, a new Tree of Life center is being built — a memorial to the victims, a tribute to what a community can do, a sanctuary to resilience and a warning that all forms of hate affect our society. This partial exhibit will tell the story and teach the lessons of a day entrenched in America's memory.

Photography by Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen

Located in the Paepcke Lobby

Iconic ocean photographers Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier share select images of their work. The duo raise awareness through their art and their nonprofit SeaLegacy, an international organization dedicated to telling great stories and saving the oceans.

‘Ascent’ and ‘Emerge’ by Basil Walter and Ayvind Karlsen / BW Architects

Located in Anderson Park

Commissioned for the 20th Aspen Ideas Festival, “Ascent” and “Emerge” are sculptures of the deconstructed, multicolored aspen leaf that is the logo of the gathering and symbolizes resilience. Besides inspiring the name of the town in which we gather, aspen trees are fascinating. A single tree is part of a larger organism, connected by its extensive root system. Each tree in a stand is a genetic replica of the others.

The Bayer Center

The Resnick Center for Herbert Bayer Studies preserves the legacy of Bauhaus artist and designer Herbert Bayer (1900-1985). Between 1946 and 1975, Bayer supported Aspen’s postwar revitalization, shaped the Aspen Institute’s early artistic and programmatic vision and designed the organization’s historic campus. 

Currently on view at the Bayer Center is “Bauhaus Typhography at 100,” which features Herbert Bayer’s innovative typographic design work in conjunction with other Bauhaus school artists including Johannes Itten, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, László Moholy-Nagy and Joost Schmidt. First exhibited in San Francisco at Letterform Archive, “Bauhaus Typography at 100” explores the school’s unique legacy in graphic design and typography, drawing a throughline from the Bauhaus’ iconic style to the shape of typography today. The Bayer Center is open daily from 11 AM to 5 PM, with one-hour guided tours offered on June 24, 25, 27 and 28 at 11:30 AM. On June 26, a guided tour will be offered at 1:30 PM.

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