Getting together with women friends is wonderful. We all leave our family responsibilities behind. We don't have to cook, clean or be responsible for anything but ourselves. Last year we took beach walks, this year we toured the Washington mall and art museums.
With my camera at home, I, instead, recorded words and art that touched me in my journal. I have a couple journals, one just for writing, one for drawing and collage, and this one that I take on trips. I won it in a blog contest here. It is thin with the softest leather cover and creamy pages, some with prompts suggesting you draw while listening to music or collage around your favorite photo. I stuff each page honoring the space hoping the journal will last a long time.
Below are the closed and open page with collaged attachments I made on and shortly after the trip:
I copied words that inspired me as we walked the mall:
At the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
At the Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial
"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."
I drew artistic works that spoke to me.
At the National Gallery West I saw a wonderful portrait photography exhibit. At the bottom left is my rendition of a surprising photo by Ilse Bing from 1931. With 2 mirrors and her camera, she captured herself head on and in profile. As an artist. she hides behind the camera yet exposes herself in such a compelling way. On the way out of the museum I grabbed a flyer that had a copy of the photo. I collaged it in on the open top right.
In the same show were the ethereal, ghostly photos of Francesca Woodman. I had recently seen a documentary about her and her family's life. Otherwise, I wouldn't have known who she was. I am intrigued by coincidences like that. In addition, there were much more recent photos by Nikki Lee. She was featured in each photo as part of a crowd of Hip Hop kids, yuppies, lesbians or other groups. Her work showed how we can change our identities, yet how fixed we can become as part of certain groups... suburban moms for example. See a video about her work here.
Outdoors at the Hirshorn Sculpture Garden I was transfixed by Rodin's Burghers of Calais. I tried to draw the anguish of one of the figures (in blue at the center right). I didn't know the story behind the work, but the art drove me to find out more. The sculpture was done in the late 1800s to honor the leaders of the city of Callais on the French coast who in 1347 surrendered themselves, starving and nearly naked, to the English forces to save their blockaded city. A powerful work, a powerful story.
Inside the Hirshorn was an exhibit by controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. His highly political art can be both tragic and humorous. A huge wall of the museum is covered with a chart from his Citizen's Investigation Project, listing the names and ages of children lost in China's earthquake. More than 5000 were killed--many in their schools--because of corruption and shoddy construction. On a lighter note, a work called Study of Perspective Tianamin and the White House, showed two large photos (one of each place). In front of each landscape, someone holds up a middle finger that looks large before the small facade. It was as interesting to watch people encounter the work as it was to see it. No one could stand before it without laughing. Here are some of his Perspective photos:
I love making time to explore art in my community, in my travels and in my journal.