Internationally acclaimed artist Craig Walsh is famous for his innovative approaches to projection mapping in unconventional sites, and Strathmore will be presenting his newest endeavor “Monuments: Creative Forces” from October 2 to 25.
The exhibition will take place outside on Strathmore’s vast 16-acre campus in North Bethesda, paying homage to six regional artists selected as “forces of nature” whose work and artistic endeavors are changing the shape of the community in fundamental ways.
“Craig Walsh is a phenomenal innovator in terms of his ability to create digital mapping,” says Joi Brown, Strathmore’s artistic director. “The spaces that will be in the trees are visual portraits, so it’s a visual treat that I think people will really appreciate. It’s a large-scale visual instantiation, so it’s very eye-catching.”
Walsh’s model allowed Strathmore’s leadership to create their own criteria for celebrating the group of artists selected for the exhibit.
“He enabled the organization to make decisions on what the community’s needs and wants are, and then supported us with his artistry,” Brown continues. “We focused on artists from our extended local community, and also used their work to raise social issues and address some kind of cultural imperative.”
One of the artists selected was Daryl Davis, a Black musician and author who seeks out conversations that change the hearts and minds of members of the Ku Klux Klan. Another is Yoko Sun, an ambient electronic musician, who is working on transforming sound environments in hospitals to take soundscape out of discord and turn it into more harmonic offerings.
The other four artists featured in the installation are Marjan Naderi, a Muslim-Afghan American author, performer and educator who was named DC Youth Poet Laureate this year; Terron Cooper Sorrells, an artist whose first solo show “The Railroad” explored the stories of African Americans typically left out of U.S. history textbooks and who appeared at the Strathmore in 2019; C. Brian Williams, founder of Step Afrika; Be Steadwell, a musician, filmmaker and storyteller whose work details race and the queer community; and Yoko K. Sen, an ambient electronic musician transforming the sound environment in hospitals.
The “Monuments: Creative Forces” exhibit will feature moving dimensional portraits of those selected and allow visitors to stroll outside at a time when most art institutions remain closed.
“With Covid-19, people are looking for inspiration and seeking some serenity and peace so the opportunity to come back to the Strathmore campus and have it be a breathing space and a sanctuary is really timely,” Brown says. “People are feeling the need to get out and interact. The fact that we can blend art and nature feels really appropriate for the time. It’s also an interesting counternarrative to the conversations happening around monuments in general right now in the public forum. This presents an alternative view on what monuments can be for a community.”
And those with Covid concerns should know Strathmore has strong safety procedures in place.
“We’re doing it in an incredibly safe and measured way,” Brown says. “We are adding time entry, limiting the number of people who can be on campus and requesting people to wear masks. The goal is to make it feel like a spacious, comfortable experience where people can feel relaxed and get away from the stress of the day.”
The exhibit opens to the public on October 2 and runs through the 25. Timed entry tickets are currently on sale in a pay-what-you-can model, with free entry available Sunday through Thursday and entry starting at $5 on Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit www.strathmore.org/monuments.
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