MoCA Westport announces that When Caged Birds Sing, a Human Rights Teaching exhibition created by esteemed Westport, CT-based artist Ann Weiner, will open to the public on October 29, 2021. The works were acquired for the Museum’s permanent collection in February 2021.

It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of the passing of our dear friend and beloved exhibiting artist Ann Weiner on November 6, 2021. Read the obituary here. 

 The exhibition will be on view through January 8, 2022.  Please Note: This exhibition includes graphic and mature subject matter that may not be suitable for all audiences. 

NEW! Sign up in advance for a free guided tour led by our knowledgable docents on Wednesdays from 1:30 PM to 2 PM. After the tour, stay for an Expressive Art Studio session, staffed with an art facilitator. Learn more and register for the tour and/or the studio session now. 

Weiner is a long-time resident of Westport, CT who has had a tremendous impact on the artistic community through her works of art, writings, teaching and philanthropy. She has participated in numerous solo exhibitions and group exhibitions throughout her career. 

When Caged Birds Sing features eight life-size sculptures representing current women’s rights activists who suffered and survived abuse because of their gender, and who continue to advocate for the rights of others at risk. The title of the exhibition is based on the Maya Angelou poem, Caged Bird, which includes the refrain, “The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom.”

Through assemblage art, Weiner has shined a spotlight on categories of lethal abuse including sex trafficking, kidnapping, transphobia, female genital mutilation (FGM), honor killings, domestic abuse, the conversion of kidnapped girls into sex slaves and killers by rebel armies, merciless Taliban law and transphobia.

mala - caged birds sing
“Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, or so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity; the female sex.

—Mahatma Gandhi
Representation of Grace Akallo

When Caged Birds Sing includes two well-known women, Malala Yousafzai, a survivor of Talibanization who was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and Laverne Cox, a survivor of transphobia who was the breakout star of the TV series “Orange is the New Black,” and is now a transgender advocate.

Although the additional women included in the exhibition may not have the same name recognition, they efforts are extremely notable, including (more information is available on

● Grace Akallo, a survivor of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Northern Uganda in 1996, who became an advocate for the children of Northern Africa

● Maria da Penha Fernandes, a survivor of domestic violence in Brazil, whose determination led to new domestic violence law in her country

● Waris Dirie, a survivor of FGM in Somalia who went on to create The Desert Flower Foundation to help eradicate the practice

● Mukhtar Ma’i, who survived honor-based violence in Pakistan and built a school and refuge for young girls

Nujood Ali, a child bride survivor of Yemen whose autobiography helped changed the laws surrounding the practice of child marriage

● Jhinna Pinchi, a survivor of sex trafficking who was the first person to face her abusers in court in Peru; she was recognized as a Trafficking in Persons Court Hero

Exhibition visitors can spend extended time in a reading area within the gallery, featuring a range of books and documents on the subjects and themes of the exhibition.

Visitors are also invited to write stories, experiences, or feelings on pieces of paper that will then be folded into the origami shape of a bird and placed in a bird cage to be released at a later time. A 45-minute documentary about the women featured in the exhibition will also be shown. 

Weiner conceived of the idea for the exhibition after reading a book about the abolitionist Grimke sisters (The Invention of Wings) by Sue Monk Kidd, and was inspired by the Grimkes’ appearance in one of the most famous works of early feminist art, “The Dinner Party,” by Judy Chicago.

The exhibition will be on view at MoCA Westport every 3-5 years and loaned to other museums and university museums in between.  

In coordination with the exhibition, the Westport Library has created a companion resource guide providing valuable information on books, research, individuals, and organizations that explore or work in the critical area of Gender Based Violence awareness, activism, and education. Visit the guide now. 

MoCA Westport thanks SRI Fine Arts Services for their generous support in helping to bring this exhibition to fruition.

Gallery admission to MoCA Westport is now free to everyone through September 2022, made possible through the gift of an anonymous donor. Visit MoCA Westport during its Fall Gallery Hours: Wednesday 12 – 4 PM | Thursday 12 – 7 PM | Friday 12 – 4 PM | Saturday & Sunday 12 – 4 PM.

More about When Caged Birds Sing

The exhibition shares the stories of dispersed cultures and histories tied together by the human condition–specifically, the circumstances and bodies of women. Through Weiner’s execution of strong, rough and often violent materials and handling, each figure also possesses an indomitable and elated spirit—the artworks and environments are sculpted with meticulous care and love. By assembling objects ranging from birdcages and lace to guns and barbed wire, stoic female sculptures emerge, each offering their unique story and situation with weight and elation, violence and peace. 


This exhibition educates an audience with both literal stories and a humanistic, visceral approach. The life-sized sculptures are confrontational–challenging the viewer’s empathy and ability to see beyond one’s conventional, personal and comfortable spaces–to take on the histories and lives of women throughout the world.  Some of the works are extremely life-like while others are more representative of the woman’s overall experience.

When Caged Birds Sing debuted at Brown University (Cohen Gallery) in Providence, R.I. in 2017 and was later on view at Housatonic Museum (Burt Chernow Gallery) in 2018, and at Southern Connecticut State University (Bueley Gallery) in 2019. 

About Ann Weiner

Weiner completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at Queens College and subsequently pursued careers both as an art teacher and as the art director of a noted apparel company. In 1997, she left her teaching and commercial design career to reenter the studio and begin her career as an exhibiting artist.

Her work has been represented by the Turner Carroll Gallery in Santa Fe, NM since the early 1990s, including her one-person lenticular traveling exhibition, Transient Images, which was shown at the Midwest Museum of American Art (Indiana), the Parkersburg Art Center (West Virginia), and the Anderson Museum of Art (Indiana).


She was the recipient of a Silvermine Living Art Award in 2017, celebrating preeminent thought leadership in Art Education. Along with her late husband Sid, Weiner also sponsored the Bill Sessions Woodworking Center at Silvermine Arts Center, providing woodworking and sculpture classes for the community.


The Weiners are also the sponsors of the A Better Chance (ABC) of Westport’s Glendarcy House, named in memory of their two eldest children. The organization provides motivated, outstanding minority youth with the opportunity to achieve their dreams through education.

For further detail on Ann Weiner’s biography and past works, please visit


Photo Credits: Stacy Bass Photography