Saturday, January 23, 2010

Wanna go to an opening tonight?

Sixteen writers and sixteen visual artists from Washington, D.C., and beyond have paired to create artworks that resonate with each other for a new exhibition, Call + Response. The show, which includes the work of a Guggenheim fellowship recipient and seven Hamiltonian Fellows, will run from January 23 until February 13, 2010, at the Hamiltonian Gallery. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, January 23, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Call + Response's participants have given a new twist to the term "call and response" (a succession of two distinct phrases played by different musicians in which the second phrase comments on or responds to the first). For each pairing, the writer has provided the call and the visual artist has created the response. The result is paired works that resonate with each other, building a bridge between two distinct but fertile communities.

The writers each wrote several short pieces, which were then distributed to the artists. One at a time, each artist selected a piece to respond to without knowing the identity of its author, until every author was paired with an artist. At the gallery, each artwork will be displayed together with the written piece to which it responds.

One pairing brings together writer Matt Klam and artist Anthony Dihle, both residents of D.C. Klam, the author of the short story collection Sam The Cat and a recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, a Whiting Writers' Award, a National Endowment of the Arts grant, and a PEN/Robert Bingham Award, contributed a new story entitled At Donna's,Thanksgiving 1992. Dihle, who earned his BFA in Graphic Design from the Rhode Island School of Design and curated a show of D.C. indie rock concert posters at Civilian Art Projects in June 2009, is responding to it with a series of oil paintings.

Another pairing matches poet Eleanor Graves with artist Lam Vuong. Graves has been teaching poetry, literature, and composition since coming to the D.C., area in 2003. She received an MFA in poetry from George Mason University and is a recipient of the Mary Rinehart Award in Poetry, with poems appearing in Phoebe, Practice, and Hayden's Ferry Review. Vuong was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, to Vietnamese refugees. His photography, watercolors, and installations deal with the nuances of loneliness and confusion in dating and Asian American culture. He started his MFA at CalArts last fall and is responding to Graves' new poem Gorgeous Evasions with a photographic work.

Call + Response
is co-curated by William Bert and Kira Wisniewski. "So many writers and artists live in D.C., and we wanted to get them talking to one another and sharing work," says Bert. "We knew that what they produced would be something special."

"Collaboration and communication are at the root of this project, and we hope that the paired works spark dialogue beyond the participants and into the community," explains Wisniewski.

As a part of their Support Local Creativity campaign, independently-owned Flying Dog Brewery, based in Frederick, Maryland, will provide sponsorship in the form of world-class, locally-produced American craft beer, available complimentarily at the opening.