A group of writers and visual artists have joined forces for Hamiltonian’s second “Call and Response” exhibition. Co-curators Kira Wisnewski and John Bert came up with the idea of “Call and Response” in order to solidify the channel of communication between artist and writer. While last year’s show was simply called “Call and Response”, this year an additional sensory term was added to the title, “Call and Response: Textures”. The title of this show references the succession of two dissimilar phrases played by various musicians, the second phrase responding to the first.
Four writers and four artists were selected to participate in “Call and Response: Textures”. Each writer contributes one “call”, which is categorized as a short piece of fiction or poetry. And each artist produces a new installation in “response” to one call. The writers have not necessarily met their artist counterpart, which helps build anticipation on how the artist will respond to their work. Naomi Ayala, Stuart Dybek, Reese Okyong Kwon, and Srikanth Reddy are the four writers who provide the “call” and John Bobby Benjamin, Amanda Burnham, Maggie Michael and the TM Sisters are the artists who create the “response”. You can visit www.callandresponsedc.org for more information on the participants and to read each writer’s comments about the show.
“The Ugliest Girls in Town” is a short story written by Reese Okyong Kwon detailing a couples’ evening spent watching a Burlesque show in New York City. Maggie Michael created an installation using a piece of string that hangs between two walls forming an ‘X’ in the space between. As Kwon writes in her post on the exhibition’s website, “Maggie Michael’s X will in some way be inspired by my Y, which was inspired by a few burlesque dancers’ Z”. Srikanth Reddy’s “From Readings in World Literature” denotes selected excerpts from literature written over numerous time periods representing various world cultures. Jon Bobby Benjamin’s installation features a wooden work table filled with stacks of miniature books. Many are extremely well known, such as William Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury”. The topics of the books range from philosophy to outer space. A plaid shirt hangs on the side of the table and small statues of thumbs are place on the surface of the table accompanying the books.
Stuart Dybek’s “call” is a short story called “Bruise” describing a particular encounter between a man and a woman. His use of imagery is so powerful; it is almost as if he paints a picture with his words. In his blog post Stuart Dybek writes, “writing is an art in which the medium-language-is abstract….The reader can do what physicists say isn’t possible: flow backward in time”. In their response, the TM Sisters portray multiple images of a moving woman. The images are projected onto three different walls in a partially enclosed space located toward the back of the gallery. One image shows a woman’s hair blowing in the breeze as she sways ever so slightly. The other image shows a woman sitting on the beach pulling up her seer sucker spring dress revealing her bare leg, referencing an act described in “Bruise”.
Naomi Ayala’s poem “Eyes Looking” is the fourth call. In her post Ayala comments on her past workings with an architect who wanted to “articulate the space” in a construction project they were involved with. Artist Amanda Burnham does just that in her ‘response’. Burnham portrays an urban neighborhood scene composed of brick row houses, street signs, roads, etc. Pieces of white paper, paint and black and orange strips of tape were used to build this community.
There are so many cool things about “Call and Reponse: Textures” that I am hoping there will be a third installment next year. If you saw the “Call and Response” show last year, you have probably already paid a visit to Hamiltonian Gallery, but if not you have until May 7th to see the amazing works of art created by this talented group of people. You can also read the interview between Dan Brady of Barrelhouse magazine, a participant in last year’s show, and Kira Wisnewski and John Bert which gives more insight into the making of this exhibition.
“Call and Response: Textures” showing at Hamiltonian Gallery through May 7th, 1353 U Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20009, hamiltoniangallery.com