There could not be a more relevant time for the opening of the On the Campaign Trail show at Corcoran College’s Gallery 31. When I first walked into the gallery Thursday night (October 18, 5-7pm), the amount of information that filled those walls, as well as the huge crowd of people that the opening drew in, blew me away.
The show drew in crowds of older viewers; people of the community that stayed not just for the food, but for the conversation (maybe also a bit for the open bar). The walls displayed everything from Washington Post photographs during the presidential campaigns, to the history of United States elections, to the paintings by the homeless guests of Miriam’s Kitchen. The work on these walls seemed to represent art and ideas from/for people of all walks of life. There is no separation between images of the two political parties. I even overheard one guest say that the show is “surprisingly unbiased,” something that is refreshing to see during the presidential campaign.
The entire show design is made powerfully cohesive by the single red line, mimicking a timeline, which is repeated throughout the room. Much of the graphic design there was done by Corcoran students. The larger images on the walls make an impression from across the room, however when viewing them up close they are too high up to properly read the caption. At times this lack of space made the design seem a bit crowded, and is a lot for the viewer to take in all at once. The theme is simplistic in design with red and white lights projected at the very front of the room to immediately bring across patriotism with the colors of the American flag.
There is an entire wall dedicated to the paintings from homeless guests at a local organization Miriam’s Kitchen, whose goal is to end chronic homelessness in Washington D.C. The paintings focused around the topic of political elections and their opinions on the current condition. The description near their wall states: “while also self-taught, these artists often project visionary ideals apart from social norms.” It is incredibly intriguing to see the work of these homeless men and women and actually hear their own ideas through their use of multi media, and the descriptions posted in the captions of the paintings. It gives a voice to those often unheard during the political campaign. The innovative two-sided painting in the show impressed me, and the workers from Miriam’s Kitchen were actually at the opening eager to answer questions about their programs and discuss the paintings, with pride in their guests’ accomplishments.
The show is interactive and invites viewers to come forward and share opinions. There were digital touch screens on the wall beside the timeline of electoral history, which viewers could participate and learn simultaneously. The anonymous straw poll helped reinforce the overall message for the viewers: to vote during this election. By including simple descriptions next to all the art and design, and including every medium imaginable (even a playlist) the show had something for everyone to enjoy. As a viewer I left reminded that I had a voice in this political campaign, and there are so many ways that all different people have spoken up over the years. The show closes just two days before Election Day and it sparks inspiration in its viewers for the changes they can be a part of.
The show will be on display October 17-November 4