, Online Program

In Conversation: The Clamor of Ornament & The Power of Adornment

Join us for a virtual conversation about the significance of ornament, history, culture and joy with Veronica Chambers, Narrative Projects editor at the New York Times. Veronica will be in conversation with Professor Martha S. Jones, a legal and cultural historian whose work examines how black Americans have shaped the story of American democracy, Dr Yao-Fen You, Senior Curator at Cooper Hewitt and Head of Product Design and Decorative Arts and Dr. Michelle May-Curry, project director for Humanities for All and a lecturer at Georgetown University.

As fashion designer Duro Olowu says in the Drawing Paper for The Clamor of Ornament exhibition, “pattern and color are almost like a language between people.” In this conversation, Chambers, Jones, You and May-Curry will explore how ornament, pattern and color have been a language in their individual work and the ways it has and continues to shape power and possibility, on and off the page.

Please feel to dress with an ornament that’s meaningful to you, or have an image of such ornament, for the question and answer section of the conversation.


Veronica Chambers is an award-winning author and the lead editor of Narrative Projects, a team dedicated to telling multi-platform stories at The New York Times. Based in London, she is the author of several books including Shirley Chisholm is a Verb and the critically acclaimed memoir, Mama’s Girl. Born in Panama and raised in Brooklyn, she writes often about her Afro-Latina heritage.

Professor Martha S. Jones is the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor, Professor of History, and a Professor at the SNF Agora Institute at The Johns Hopkins University. She is a legal and cultural historian whose work examines how black Americans have shaped the story of American democracy.

Yao-Fen You is Senior Curator at Cooper Hewitt and head of Product Design and Decorative Arts. Dr. You is currently the acting director for the Asian Pacific American Center, which works to present the history, art and culture of American Pacific Americans through research, exhibitions, outreach and education programs.

Michelle May-Curry is the project director of Humanities for All, an initiative of the National Humanities Alliance, and a lecturer in the department of Engaged and Public Humanities at Georgetown University.


The Clamor of Ornament: Exchange, Power, and Joy from the Fifteenth Century to the Present