Desktop Dialogues

Listen as curators, educators, community leaders, artists, and others offer new ways to look at and understand artworks, special exhibitions, and museum-specific issues. 


Past Events

Serpent Deity (Nag Devta I)

Craft and Contemporary Art

Wednesday, June 16, 12:00 p.m. (EDT)

Artists Mrinalini Mukherjee, Robert Morris, and Zilia Sánchez experimented with materials in new ways and, at the same time, referenced divergent traditions and histories of art making. 

Join artist Surabhi Ghosh of Concordia University and CMA curator Sonya Rhie Mace as they discuss the work of these artists, the global scope of the CMA’s newly reinstalled contemporary galleries, and the investment in material exploration and craft traditions in contemporary art. 

Desktop Dialogue: Craft and Contemporary Art

Evasion, 1947. Jared French (American, 1905–1988).

Generations of Queer Art

Wednesday, June 2, 2021, 12:00 p.m. (EDT)

What does it mean for LGBTQ+ youths to see their community represented in the CMA’s permanent collection? 

The CMA invited teens from the Queer Youth Initiative (QYou) at the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland to use the new “LGBTQ+ artists after 1900” popular search filter on Collection Online and select a few of their favorite artworks.

Join the QYou teens and Andrew Cappetta as they discuss how these works and the representation of queer artists in the collection resonate with young people in the LGBTQ+ community. 

Desktop Dialogue: Generations of Queer Art

Marcus Garvey Knew, 2012. Mario Moore (American, b. 1987). Oil on canvas; 213.4 x 152.4 cm. © Mario Moore

Rethinking Artistic Traditions

Wednesday, May 19, 2021, 12:00 p.m. (EDT)

What value does historical art have for contemporary artists and audiences? 

In his realist paintings, Mario Moore shows how traditional artistic practices can be powerful vehicles for exploring timeless themes and the provocative issues of today.  

Join Moore in conversation with CMA curator Cory Korkow as they discuss Moore’s work, the relevance of historical paintings, and the exhibition Variations: The Reuse of Models in Paintings by Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi

Desktop Dialogue: Rethinking Artistic Traditions

Desktop Dialogue: An Art Anthology, Chapter Four

Wednesday, May 5, 2021, 12:00 p.m. (EDT)

How many stories can a work of art tell?   

The series An Art Anthology accompanies the CMA exhibition Stories from Storage. Developed in collaboration with the creative writing organization Literary Cleveland, the series invites four local storytellers to offer artful interpretations of select objects on view in the show. 

For the fourth and final chapter, poet Kamden Hilliard presents a new work, developed in dialogue with Kara Walker’s monumental collage-drawing The Republic of New Afrika at a Crossroads. Hilliard and curator Key Jo Lee discuss the histories that Walker’s work unearths and the new understandings Hilliard’s poem reveals. 

Desktop Dialogue: An Art Anthology, Chapter Four

Desktop Dialogue: An Art Anthology, Chapter Three

Wednesday, April 21, 2021, 12:00 p.m. (EDT)

How many stories can a work of art tell? 

The series An Art Anthology accompanies the CMA exhibition Stories from Storage. Developed in collaboration with the creative writing organization Literary Cleveland, the series invites four local storytellers to offer artful interpretations of select objects on view in the show. 

For the third chapter, musical collective Mourning [A] BLKstar presents a meditative soundscape created in collaboration with multimedia artist Jenn Kidd and inspired by Buddhist and Hindu devotional objects Green Tara, Agni, God of Fire, and Bodhisattva Manjushri: Bodhisattva of Wisdom. Band members RA Washington and Theresa May join curator Sonya Rhie Mace to discuss their distinctive interpretations of these sacred and protective artworks. 

Desktop Dialogue: An Art Anthology, Chapter Three

Desktop Dialogue: An Art Anthology, Chapter Two

Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 12:00 p.m. (EDT)

How many stories can a work of art tell?  

The series An Art Anthology accompanies the CMA exhibition Stories from Storage. Developed in collaboration with the creative writing organization Literary Cleveland, the series invites four local storytellers to offer artful interpretations of select objects on view in the show. 

For the second chapter, food writer and culinary historian Sarah Lohman (Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine) brings viewers on a journey through the food, culture, and landscape of the Navajo Nation, beginning with artist Lenore Tawney’s postcard collage Cañon de Chelly. In creating her narrative, Lohman draws on curator Emily Peters’s research into Tawney’s practice and on interdisciplinary artist Zefren Anderson’s deep knowledge of Diné weaving and history. 

Desktop Dialogue: An Art Anthology, Chapter Two

Desktop Dialogue: An Art Anthology, Chapter One

Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 12:00 p.m. (EDT)

How many stories can a work of art tell?  

The series An Art Anthology accompanies the CMA exhibition Stories from Storage. Developed in collaboration with the creative writing organization Literary Cleveland, the series invites four local storytellers to offer artful interpretations of select objects on view in the show. 

For the first chapter, playwright Eric Coble (The Velocity of Autumn, Bright Ideas) draws from photographs of popular tourist locales to create the dramatic monologue “That Which Can Be Held.” Watch Coble’s live performance and, afterward, join him and curator Barbara Tannenbaum for a conversation about the fantasy and romance of travel in images and spoken word. 

Desktop Dialogue: An Art Anthology, Chapter One

Storytelling in Japanese Art

Wednesday, March 3, 2021, 12:00 p.m. (EST)

How do you “read” an image? 

Join Andrew Cappetta, curator Sinéad Vilbar, and CMA intern Jeanna Lopez for a close examination of an illustrated handscroll of the family drama The Saltmaker’s Story (Bunshō Zōshi). Vilbar and Lopez reveal the meaning of important narrative details, share their investigative research process, and discuss how mentor-mentee relationships drive innovation in museum scholarship. 

Desktop Dialogue: Storytelling in Japanese Art

Authenticating Antiquity

Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 12:00 p.m. (EST)

Must an artwork be completely original to have artistic, historical, and educational value? 

Curator Seth Pevnick and conservator Colleen Snyder discuss this question, revealing some of the art historical and scientific investigative research involved in selecting, preparing, and determining the age of ancient Greek and Roman objects on display in the Stories from Storage exhibition.

Desktop Dialogue: Authenticating Antiquity

The Politics of Sound

Wednesday, February 3, 2021, 12:00 p.m. (EST)

How has music served as a tool of political change? 

Join Andrew Cappetta and Nwaka Onwusa, vice president of curatorial affairs and chief curator at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, for a conversation about the power of music and artists who have harnessed word and sound to fight for social justice and racial equality.

Desktop Dialogue: The Politics of Sound

Comfort with the Unknown

Wednesday, January 13, 2021, 12:00 p.m. (EST)

How might close and mindful looking at artwork help us find comfort with the uncertain aspects of our lives today? Join Andrew Cappetta and Gwendolyn Ren, a mindfulness and contemplation guide, for an interactive conversation and guided meditation session inspired by the enigmatic Statuette of a Woman, popularly known as “The Stargazer.

Desktop Dialogue: Comfort with the Unknown

Capturing the Spark

Wednesday, December 16, 2020, 12:00 p.m. (EST)

Perhaps the greatest joy of the art historian is the unpredicted spark of inspiration one gets from an artwork when seeing it for the first time. Join Andrew Cappetta and Key Jo Lee as they share two newly collected works by Harry Bertoia and Mickalene Thomas and discuss the connections the objects have inspired.

Making and Meaning in Mola Textiles

Wednesday, November 18, 2020, 12:00 p.m. (EST)

How do materials and fabrication processes convey meaning in a work of art or design?   

Join CMA research fellow Andrea Vazquez de Arthur and museum guide Leonardo Pérez Carreño from the Museo de la Mola in Panamá City, Panamá, for a conversation about making and meaning in molas, a key component of traditional dress among indigenous Guna women and the subject of the upcoming exhibition Fashioning Identity: Mola Textiles of Panamá.

Desktop Dialogue: Making and Meaning in Mola Textiles

Healing through Abstraction

Wednesday, November 4, 2020, 12:00 p.m. (EST)

Can the expressive possibilities of abstract art help one heal from trauma?  

Join Andrew Cappetta and visual artist Hernease Davis for a conversation on Davis’s abstract photo-based images, installations, and weavings, which she describes as surfaces for “expression, meditation, anger, rest” and “quiet spaces of self-care.” Together they also discuss the work of artists that have inspired Davis’s own move from representation to abstraction, including Sam Gilliam, Mark Rothko, and Lorna Simpson. Davis’s #14: A Womb of My Own (Mistakes Were Made in Development) is currently on view at Transformer Station in the exhibition ONE: Unique Photo-Based Images.

Desktop Dialogue: Healing through Abstraction

Documenting Communities

Wednesday, October 21, 2020, 12:00 p.m.

In conjunction with the upcoming exhibition Bruce Davidson: Brooklyn Gang, join curator Barbara Tannenbaum and photographer Vincent Cianni as they explore the roles and responsibilities of the documentary photographer. In his projects We Skate Hardcore, Gays in the Military, and the Newburgh Community Photo Project, Cianni has explored issues of community, memory, and social justice. 

Desktop Dialogue: Documenting Communities

Navigating Gender and Breaking Barriers

Wednesday, October 7, 2020, 12:00 p.m.

What impact do gender constructs have on artists and art history? Is there greater gender equity in today’s art world?

New York–based artist Maria Yoon and curator Sooa McCormick explore the pressing issue of gender inequality, past and present, through their shared experience as Korean women and discuss how notions of gender play a role in their artistic and curatorial practices. Yoon’s documentary, Maria the Korean Bride (2013), uncovers the different ways communities across the United States view the institution of marriage. McCormick’s current exhibition, Gold Needles: Embroidery Arts from Korea, frames Korean embroidery works as tools for promoting women’s own cultural identities.

Program viewers are invited to watch Maria Yoon’s documentary Maria the Korean Bride, in its entirety and at no cost, here

Desktop Dialogue: Navigating Gender and Breaking Barriers

Images of Leadership

Wednesday, September 16, 2020, 12:00–12:45 p.m.

How do images of leaders from the ancient world influence our understanding of what leadership can look like today?  

Join Andrew Cappetta and curator Seth Pevnick as they discuss ancient Greek and Roman representations of leadership through both ancient and modern lenses. How have surviving images of ancient leaders conditioned our present understanding of them? And how have interpretations of these ancient images helped shape historical images of American authority, allowing certain archetypes of leadership to persist?


Desktop Dialogue: Images of Leadership

This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Wednesday, September 2, 2020, 12:00 p.m.

What images represent democracy to you?  

Join Erika Anthony, the co-founder of Cleveland VOTES and the executive director of the Ohio Transformation Fund, to discuss how artists have represented the democratic process in the United States—from voting to protest—and how art plays a role in shaping civic participation and inciting political change.

Erika L. Anthony is the executive director of Ohio Transformation Fund (OTF), a collaborative fund developed by national and local funders advocating for healthy communities and an equitable democracy across Ohio. Prior to OTF, she served as the vice president of government relations and strategy for Cleveland Neighborhood Progress. Anthony has also co-founded Cleveland VOTES and Hack Cleveland.

Desktop Dialogue: This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Care and Curatorial Practice: A Conversation with La Tanya Autry

Wednesday, August 19, 2020, 12:00 p.m.

How do you define the word “care” and how does it relate to curatorial practice?  

Scholar, curator, and cultural organizer La Tanya Autry discusses her innovative approach to creating exhibitions that focus on collective community care, including recent projects Temporary Spaces of Joy and Freedom (moCa Cleveland, 2020), Let Us March On: Lee Friedlander and the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom (Yale University Art Gallery, 2017), and The Art of Black Dissent (various sites, 2016–).  

La Tanya Autry has curated exhibitions and organized programs at moCa Cleveland, Yale University Art Gallery, Artspace New Haven, and other institutions. Through her graduate studies at the University of Delaware, where she is completing her PhD in art history, Autry has developed expertise in the art of the United States, photography, and museums. Her dissertation The Crossroads of Commemoration: Lynching Landscapes in America analyzes how individuals and communities memorialize lynching violence in the built environment. As a cultural organizer in the visual arts, Autry has co-produced #MuseumsAreNotNeutral, an initiative that exposes the fallacies of the neutrality claim and calls for an equity-based transformation of museums, and the Social Justice and Museums Resource List, a crowdsourced bibliography. 

Desktop Dialogue: Care and Curatorial Practice: A Conversation with La Tanya Autry

Re-visioning Art and History

Wednesday, August 5, 2020, 12:00 p.m.

At this moment, engaged citizens across the world are questioning the systems, structures, and values that museums are built upon. Join Andrew Cappetta and Key Jo Lee to discuss how these much-needed critiques will inform CMA programs like Desktop Dialogues and Close Looking at a Distance, explore objects that reshape what we know about art and museums including Fred Wilson’s To Die upon a Kiss, and learn the value of adopting multiple perspectives to understand works of art. 

Desktop Dialogue: Re-visioning Art and History

Recovering Lost Histories of Pride

Wednesday, June 24, 2020, 12:00 p.m.

Honor the origins of Pride Month and its connections to the Black Lives Matter movement. Join writer-educator Naazneen Diwan from the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland and curator Nadiah Rivera Fellah to discuss the importance of BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) queer and trans activists and artists to movements for LGBTQ+ rights. This is a live event, and questions from the audience are encouraged. 

Desktop Dialogue: Recovering Lost Histories of Pride

Healing and Heritage

Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 12:00 p.m.

Join curator Kristen Windmuller-Luna and artist-educator Orlando Caraballo to discuss how artists and makers have turned to cultural objects and practices for healing.

Desktop Dialogue: Healing and Heritage

Restore and Reflect

Wednesday, May 20, 2020, 12:00 p.m.

Are you feeling overwhelmed? Join curator Sonya Rhie Mace and meditation instructor Jennifer Bochik as they look closely at examples of Buddhist art and demonstrate how traditional mindfulness practices can help us manage the challenges we are facing today.

Desktop Dialogue: Restore and Reflect

The Comforts of Home

Wednesday, May 13, 2020, 12:00 p.m.

What objects around your home bring you comfort? Curator Stephen Harrison and educator-scholar Key Jo Lee discuss Emma Amos’s Sandy and Her Husband and decorative art from the museum’s collection, reflecting on the ways works of art and design make the home a place of tranquility.

Desktop Dialogue: The Comforts of Home


Wednesday, May 6, 2020, 12:00 p.m.

Have you found yourself developing hacks and work-arounds to put dinner on the table or celebrate a holiday? Join curator Nadiah Rivera Fellah and artist-educator Robin Heinrich to discuss how limitations helped artists Sanford Biggers, Louisa Joiner, and Robert Rauschenberg become resourceful and arrive at new creative solutions.

Desktop Dialogue: Resourcefulness

Communicating across Distances

Wednesday, April 29, 2020, 12:00 p.m.

Join curator Britany Salsbury and educator Arielle Levine for a discussion around the exhibition A Graphic Revolution and how artists José Guadalupe Posada and León Ferrari used printmaking to communicate ideas and messages across great distances.

Desktop Dialogue: Communicating across Distances

This program has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

National Endowment for the Humanities seal

All education programs at the Cleveland Museum of Art are underwritten by the CMA Fund for Education. We recognize the inaugural supporters for the CMA Fund for Education, with generous annual funding provided by an anonymous supporter, Cynthia and Dale Brogan, the M. E. and F. J. Callahan Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Walter R. Chapman Jr., the Sam J. Frankino Foundation, Florence Kahane Goodman, Janice Hammond and Edward Hemmelgarn, the Lloyd D. Hunter Memorial Fund, Eva and Rudolf Linnebach, Dr. Linda M. Sandhaus and Dr. Roland S. Philip, Sally and Larry Sears, the Veale Foundation, and the Womens Council of the Cleveland Museum of Art.