Stephen Houston to Present 2023 A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts

The Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. recently announced that Professor Stephen Houston will deliver the 72nd A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts beginning in April 2023.

Stephen Houston studying an artifact

Houston’s lecture series, entitled, Vital Signs: The Visual Cultures of Maya Writing, will take place at the National Gallery from April 16 through May 21, 2023.

Over six lectures, Houston will explore Maya writing “glyphs” of ancient Mexico and Central America. Recent decipherments of glyphs enable us to probe how language intersected with visual experience, who devised these innovations, by what means, and for what reasons.

The lectures will explore the perceived vitality of these glyphs; what text and image were thought to look like; what was held to be beautiful, ugly, or amusing; how action and motion were categorized verbally and organized visually; and how size and scale configured paintings and carvings. In doing so, a world long silent and static will come back to life. 

About the A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts (cited from

Since 1949 the preeminent A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts have presented the best in contemporary thought and scholarship on the subject of the fine arts. The program itself is named for Andrew W. Mellon, founder of the National Gallery of Art, who gave the nation his art collection and funds to build the West Building, which opened to the public in 1941.

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