What is America? It’s a compelling question any time. Right now it’s a question that causes soul-searching in communities of all kinds.
From its place in downtown Washington, DC, Touchstone Gallery has created an exhibit that calls on artists to provide their answers. “AMERICA IS…” Artists Explore, Ask and Answer: What is America Today?”
I was completely thrilled to have a piece of my artwork selected for the show. I was not able to attend the opening reception in person. But I have learned more about the exhibit since it opened and I’m happy to share thoughts and what I’ve learned.
I wondered what kind of images and messages would be included.
America’s beauty – amber waves of grain and purple mountains?
America’s people – heroes, everyday folks, your next door neighbor?
America’s controversies – commentary or protests?
It turns out the jurors put together a mix that has some of all of that. A few numbers: jurors reviewed over 2000 images from approximately 300 artists. Forty-eight artists were selected for the exhibition, with a total of fifty-one works. (Did I mention I was thrilled to be part of this?)
A press release from Touchstone Gallery states that artists addressed “many national issues – political corruption, constitutional crisis, racism, stereotyping of immigrants, police violence, climate change, women’s rights, drug addiction, and discrimination against the LGBTQ community… The artists speak in many voices, some marveling at progress and some lamenting at lack of progress, some with explicit and direct commentary on the issues of the day, others with the subtle and metaphorical voice emerging from their highly original use of materials.”
My artwork combines the personal and the historical. “Every One Has a Different Story” is inspired by the row house neighborhood in Baltimore where I spent my early childhood. For me, it’s an affectionate picture of a place that feels like home. But my family’s story is also the story of America in the mid 20th century. I’m a baby boomer. My parents married and started their family shortly after WWII, pursuing the very American dream of owning their own home. Row house neighborhoods like Rodgers Forge were starter homes for lots of families.
But I also wanted this simple image of a row of houses to give voice to a message of individuality. Row houses all look the same on the outside. But, every family is different and every story is different. Mixing up the windows and the architecture and filling the walls with lively colors and patterns is my way of expressing the individual, diverse lives that existed behind the brick façade.
Here are images of the works selected for awards by the jurors.
Top Left: “Ghanaian-American II” by Lloyd Foster Archival Pigment Print, 24" x 36
Lower Left: "Sappho Beach, Glory, Kansas" and "Splendid County Roads, Refuge Co., South Dakota" by Judith G. Levy Archival digital collage, Edition 4/10, 23" x 60
Top Right Gazing” by Tirock Moore and Nic Brierre Aziz for Archival pigment print, 42.25" x 29.5",
Bottom Right: “Great! Great! Great! By Jenny Wu A Video 2min + 12 sec with 200+ depictions of President Trump describing himself as “great.”
From my studio in Florida I have imagined this exhibit in the heart of Washington DC, It’s right down the street from government offices that are too much filled with inaction and inattention to issues that are deeply important to our country. I’m grateful that art and artists are on that corridor too – speaking out.
“America Is” will exhibit at Touchstone Gallery through August 29.
901 New York Ave NW Washington DC 20001
For more information about my quilt “Every One Has a Different Story,” see it HERE
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