Friday, April 10, 2009

American Pictures Series at Smithsonian Features Cartoonist Roz Chast

Chestertown, MD — Legendary New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast will appear on Sunday, April 26, as the final speaker in this spring's American Pictures Distinguished Lecture Series, a joint program of Washington College, the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The American Pictures series offers a highly original approach to art, pairing great works with leading figures of American culture. This spring's all-star line-up has included Chast, iconic filmmaker John Waters (who appeared March 21), novelist Jamaica Kincaid (who appeared April 11) and presidential historian Harold Holzer (who appeared April 18). Each speaker has chosen a single powerful image and investigated its meanings, revealing how artworks reflect American identity and inspire creativity in many different fields. The series director is historian and essayist Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the college's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience.

Chast has said she found her calling when she was 8 years old and came across some of Charles Addams' deliciously macabre cartoons. On April 26, she will discuss his famous "Boiling Oil." Addams was the creator of the Addams family of television and movie fame, and in the cartoon, a group of Christmas carolers serenades the family manse while the Addamses, hidden on the roof, prepare to douse them with a cauldron of boiling oil. Like Addams before her, Chast is a longtime contributor to The New Yorker, where editor David Remnick calls her "the magazine's only certifiable genius." Her work has been collected in nine books, most recently a 25-year survey of her work, titled Theories of Everything.

Her lecture, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 4:30 p.m. at the Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture, 8th and F Sts., N.W., Washington, D.C., in the National Portrait Gallery's and Smithsonian American Art Museum's McEvoy Auditorium. Tickets are available in the G Street lobby of the Reynolds Center, beginning at 3:30 p.m. No reservations are necessary for the general public.

Students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of Washington College may reserve tickets to this and the other American Pictures events on a first-come, first-served basis. The Starr Center is also running free buses from Chestertown to Washington for each talk. For details, please call 410-810-7165 or email For more information on the American Pictures series, visit

About the Sponsors

Founded in 1782 under the personal patronage of its namesake, Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, upholds a tradition of excellence and innovation in the liberal arts. The American Pictures lecture series is a project of the college's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and its Department of Art and Art History. Support for the American Pictures Distinguished Lecture Series comes from the Starr Foundation, the Hodson Trust, the Hedgelawn Foundation, and other benefactors.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum, the nation's first collection of American art, is an unparalleled record of the American experience. The collection captures the aspirations, character and imagination of the American people from the colonial period to today.

The National Portrait Gallery tells the stories of America through the individuals—poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists—who have built our national culture. It is where the arts keep us in the company of remarkable Americans.

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