In the Pursuit of Happiness



An exhibition and symposium that stimulate dialog around art, inequality, and changing public policy

July 20 - September 9, 2012  in the Muñoz Waxman Foyer 


How do we understand happiness and fulfillment? Can flourishing be quantified? What sort of metrics can take into account a multi-dimensional experience of well being? Around the world, people are rethinking how to evaluate progress and this rethinking is changing public policy, in Washington DC and abroad.

Center for Contemporary Arts presents cutting-edge work happening in economic theory, its real world application, and the art it inspires. In the Pursuit of Happiness sparks meaningful dialog about the roots and metrics of what it means to lead a happy life.


Regina Foster wants everyone to experience happiness.  Through the act of painting, she finds personal contentment and also a vehicle for sharing beauty and happiness with others.  Her recent paintings are inspired by her brother-in-law’s advances in the field of economic theory, and particularly, by his “multi-dimensional poverty measure” that incorporates nutrition, education, and contentment into a success-measuring algorithm. This algorithm, as well as notions of well-being infuse Regina’s paintings.  Through the imagery and symbolism of roses, ravens, hummingbirds and canaries, juxtaposed with barbed wire and other symbols of limitation, these paintings speak to the breakthroughs happening around the world, in the pursuit of happiness.
Symposium and related events:
James Foster is co-author of the Multi-Dimensional Poverty Measure, an algorithm for equating the happiness that is changing public policy around the world.  A world-renowned economist, James comes to CCA to lead a symposium about the economics of inequality and how art can be a vehicle for social change. Featured panelists include: Regina Foster, artist; James Foster, Economics Professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs; Joseph Shepard, President of Western New Mexico University; Helena Ribe, International Development Economist, recently retired from the World Bank; Michael Moore, founder of both the Elliott School's Institute for International Economic Policy and the International Trade and Investment Policy at George Washington University; and Erin Elder, CCA's Visual Arts Curator.   This hour-long, power-packed conversation lays the groundwork for more in-depth consideration that will imbue the following dinner and other subsequent events.

JULY 20th course of events:

5:30-6:30 VIP members opening

6:30-7:30 panel discussion, open to the public

7:30-9:00 public opening

August 26th
'Rose and Roses' - A Presentation of the Broadway Play by Martin Sherman, Performed by Barbara Mehl Goldman

This exhibition was Underwritten by