On a clear, mild night, dogwalkers, runners and admirers of the National Mall paused before the museum to take in Ryan’s words.
“I think it’s amazing that you get to see this in the seat of democracy,” said Sangita Shaha, a 2009 Darden School of Business alumna and the UVA Club of D.C. vice president.
Ryan is the only sitting university president to be included in the display. His words, along with those of Plato, the late civil rights activist John Lewis, poet Emily Dickinson and dozens of others, were projected onto the facades of the National Museum of American History and the Hirshhorn Museum. Ryan’s quote was bracketed by words from Barbara Jordan, the first Black woman from a Southern state to serve in the House of Representatives, and Aeschines, an ancient Greek statesman.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be included in Jenny Holzer’s exhibit alongside so many visionaries and champions of democracy,” Ryan said. “I was grateful for the chance to be part of the Independence Day celebrations and naturalization ceremony at Monticello, which were a moving reminder about the power and ideals of American democracy. Holzer has perfectly captured that spirit with her latest project, and I hope it will inspire others to engage in civic life and advocate for a more just and peaceful world.”
Holzer is an award-winning American conceptual artist whose work is on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, among other museums.
For Trevor Doiron, a double Hoo who earned his master’s degree in public policy, the display helps him feel closer to his alma mater while working in the city of his dreams.
“It’s really nice that we get to have that connection to him here,” Doiron, a member of the UVA Club of D.C., said
The projection is part of the State Department’s Art in Embassies program, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year with its Democracy Collection. UVA's Karsh Institute of Democracy is a key partner in the program.
“I reached out because of the reputation of the Karsh Institute of Democracy,” said Megan Beyer, director of the Art in Embassies program. She thought it would be a “great culmination” to a series of events the State Department had hosted to celebrate the program’s anniversary.