For Immediate Release
Contact: Amy Day
Tel: 515.271.0344 (o)
515.612.0775 (c)

Des Moines Art Center Receives National Endowment for the Arts Grant to Support “Underneath Everything: Humility and Grandeur in Contemporary Ceramics”

DES MOINES, IA (May 2023)The Des Moines Art Center has been approved for a $20,000 Grants for Arts Projects award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support the exhibition “Underneath Everything: Humility and Grandeur in Contemporary Ceramics,” slated to be on view at the Des Moines Art Center June 3, 2023 – September 10, 2023. The Des Moines Art Center’s project is among 1,130 projects across the country, totaling more than $31 million, that were selected during this second round of Grants for Arts Projects fiscal year 2023 funding. 

“The National Endowment for the Arts is pleased to support a wide range of projects demonstrating the many ways the arts enrich our lives and contribute to healthy and thriving communities,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “These organizations play an important role in advancing the creative vitality of our nation and helping to ensure that all people can benefit from arts, culture, and design.” 

“Underneath Everything” will feature a diverse group of national and international artists working in ceramics who push the limitations of clay and use the medium to comment on race, gender, climate change, and other pressing social justice issues. “The Art Center is thrilled and honored to be the recipient of a Grant for Art Projects award from the NEA. That they have recognized the merit and importance of “Underneath Everything” is deeply meaningful to us. This project exemplifies the creative, intellectual, and ethical spirit that informs the Art Center’s identity, and we are proud to have the support of the nation’s largest granting agency for this timely and beautiful exhibition,” said Dr. Kelly Baum, John and Mary Pappajohn Director. 

The exhibition is organized by Associate Curator, Mia Laufer, in consultation with an Artist Advisory Committee including artists Katayoun Amjadi, Donté K. Hayes, Ingrid Lilligren, and Chuck Purviance. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, featuring essays by Laufer; Dr. Glenn Adamson, former director of the Museum of Art and Design in New York; and Dr. Tiffany Momon, assistant professor at Sewanee: The University of the South; and a robust array of programming, including gallery talks, artist panels, and lectures.  

For more information on other projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit 

For additional information or images about “Underneath Everything,” contact Director of External Affairs Amy Day at 515.271.0344 or 

About the Des Moines Art Center + John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park
Recognized by international art critics as a world-class museum in the heart of the Midwest, the Des Moines Art Center, an AAM-accredited institution, has amassed an important collection of art from the 19th century to the present, with a major emphasis on contemporary art. Focused on quality and global in scope, it includes major works by Henry Ossawa Tanner, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Francis Bacon, Andy Goldsworthy, Henri Matisse, Wangechi Mutu, Ai Wei Wei, and Kara Walker, among hundreds of others. The collection is housed in three major buildings, each designed by a renowned architect—Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei and Richard Meier. With the exception of select special events, admission to the museum is free.

In September 2009, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park opened in Des Moines’ Western Gateway Park. Philanthropists John and Mary Pappajohn provided funding for and donated 32 sculptures by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists to the Des Moines Art Center. The collection of sculptures by such artists as Martin Puryear, Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Butterfield, Willem de Kooning, Mark di Suvero, Olafur Eliasson, Keith Haring, Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, Yayoi Kusama, Jaume Plensa, Richard Serra and Joel Shapiro is the most significant donation of artwork to the Art Center in a single gift in the museum’s history. The Pappajohn Sculpture Park is a collaboration of the Pappajohns, the City of Des Moines, the Des Moines Art Center and numerous corporate and private donors.