press release

Viewfinder: Women’s Film and Video from the Smithsonian
A monthly online screening series from the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative
January 7–December 30, 2021

Since the invention of the moving image, women have created films and videos that have changed how people see and experience the world. Throughout 2021, the Smithsonian will celebrate the breadth of women-made films and videos through a monthly program series called “Viewfinder: Women’s Film and Video from the Smithsonian.” On the first Thursday of each month, the Smithsonian will host a free online screening of rarely seen short films and videos from its collections followed by live conversations with the artists and Smithsonian curators. Each screening will include an audience Q&A, and a recording of the program will be available for the remainder of each month on

“One of the great strengths of the Smithsonian is in the powerful connections that are found across its vast collections that allow us to tell complex stories and amplify our shared experiences,” said Stephanie Stebich, chair of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative and the Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “As the COVID-19 pandemic has closed the doors to the Smithsonian’s physical spaces, we have opened our digital doors even wider. The ‘Viewfinder’ series will bring media art from across the Smithsonian out of the dark and into people’s homes around the world, highlighting the interdisciplinary depth and diversity of the collections.” The selected works featured in “Viewfinder” will explore different themes that connect collections across several Smithsonian museums. The first six programs of the year will feature works that examine inner worlds—a timely topic as the global pandemic continues to confine many people to their homes.

Monthly programs will be hosted on Zoom at 5:30pm ET, with live closed-captioning available; advance registration is required. The public can find information about upcoming screenings and register for each program on the American Women’s History Initiative website.

The schedule for the first six programs is:
January 7—Ingrid Wiegand, Julie Finch: On Loft Life and Space-Making in the 1970s Julie (1974) and Walking (1975). Followed by a conversation between Wiegand and Julie Finch and Archives of American Art curator Josh T. Franco.

February 4—Joan Jonas: The Inner Worlds of Video
Left Side Right Side (1972) and Vertical Roll (1972). Followed by a conversation with Jonas and Saisha Grayson, curator of time-based media art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and Charlotte Ickes, curator of time-based media art and special projects at the National Portrait Gallery.

March 4—Zina Saro-Wiwa: On Mourning and Memory
Sarogua Mourning (2011). The screening will be followed by a conversation between the artist and Karen Milbourne, senior curator at the National Museum of African Art.

April 1—Margaret Salmon: On Motherhood and the Everyday
Ninna Nanna (2006). The filmmaker will join Marina Isgro, associate curator of media and performance art and Robert and Arlene Kogod Secretarial Scholar, in a post-screening conversation..

May 6—Zora Lathan and Iman Uqdah Hameen: On Black Interiority
The screening will pair the experimental works of Zora and the short film Unspoken Conversation (1987) by Iman Uqdah Hameen. The filmmakers will join National Museum of African American History and Culture’s curator Rhea Combs and media conservator Ina Archer for a post-screening conversation.

June 3—Leslie Thornton: On Imagining Isolation
Peggy and Fred in Kansas (1987). Following the screening, a conversation between curator Saisha Grayson and Thornton.

About the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative
The Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, “Because of Her Story,” is one of the country’s most ambitious undertakings to research, collect, document, display and share the rich, complete and compelling story of women in America. Launched in 2018, the initiative seeks to create a more equitable and just American society by creating, educating, disseminating and amplifying the historical record of the accomplishments of American women. More information about the initiative, including exhibitions and public programs, is available online at