Kate Clarke Lemay, historian and curator for the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., will deliver the fall 2019 Philip Thayer Memorial Lecture at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, October 2, in Wimberly Recital Hall, inside Presser Hall. The lecture honors the centennial year of national woman suffrage in the United States and complements Lemay’s path-breaking National Portrait Gallery exhibition, Votes For Women! A Portrait of Persistence.
Lemay has curated several of the National Portrait Gallery’s most notable exhibitions, including Votes for Women! A Portrait of Persistence, and Marlene Dietrich: Dressed for the Image. She also served as the lead historian for the transformation of the museum’s landmark exhibition, America’s Presidents. Lemay serves as director of PORTAL = Portraiture + Analysis, the Portrait Gallery’s center for scholarly studies, as well as the coordinating curator for the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative.
Lemay has also received national acclaim for her scholarly writing. She published a major catalogue with Princeton University Press in 2019 to accompany the Votes for Women exhibition. In 2017, her book Triumph of the Dead: American WWII Cemeteries, Monuments, and Diplomacy in France, was awarded the Terra Foundation in American Art Publication grant. She also edited a special issue on transatlantic diplomacy and war cemeteries for The International Journal of Military History and Historiography in 2018.
Prior to joining the National Portrait Gallery staff in 2015, Lemay was an art professor at Auburn University Montgomery and a visiting professor of the history of modern and contemporary art at Brigham Young University. She earned a combined Ph.D. in American art history and American studies from Indiana University (Bloomington), where she also completed an M.A. in art history. She also holds a B.A. in French and art history from Syracuse University.
Lemay’s presentation at Randolph is the first of two Thayer lectures this year. The second will be delivered in the spring by Sheila Walker, a writer/filmmaker and authority on the African diaspora. In addition to giving the Thayer lecture, Walker will serve as a visiting Woodrow Wilson Fellow through the Council of Independent Colleges and will work with faculty and students in several disciplines.
The annual Phillip Thayer Memorial Lecture, named for a respected Randolph history professor emeritus, brings scholars to Randolph College each year to speak on the liberal arts. The event is made possible by the Philip Thayer Memorial Lecture Fund.