Preview: Southeast DC Young Artist Showcase

EVENT: Southeast DC Young Artist Show

LOCATION: Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC, 1901 Mississippi Ave. SE)

WHEN: On display until March 30th

On February 28th at 1901 Mississippi Ave. SE in DC, 22 young artists from high schools in Wards 6, 7, and 8 and students living East of the river displayed their work relating to the theme of “Community”. Presented by the 22 artists and AU student Maya Simkin, and supported by Eagle Endowment and ArtReach Gallery, there is a lot to be said for and by this show..

Community means something very different for everyone. It is defined in three ways by Merriam-Webster: 1. A unified body of individuals; 2. A society at large; and 3. Joint ownership or participation. These definitions, although static may mean something completely different to an adult in Southeast than it does to a high schooler, something different to a mom in Bethesda, and something different to me than to you, ultimately.

The works in this show range over all mediums and perspectives: acrylic on canvas, ink and pencil on paper or wood, multimedia CGI with accompanying poetry. One artist, Brianna Williams writes: "Based on the harsh environment regarding racism and social, political and economic poverty and equality I hope to use my art work so that I can get out of DC and make a bigger change with kids who are placed in poverty". Here is one of her pieces, Black Child.

(Media: Ink and pencil on wood)

DC is a fast-changing city. Because of this, it would be easy for students at American to forget that the there are communities in DC outside of the ones we are a part of. Too often people here will get caught up in their own work and their own bubbles to appreciate the thoughts and ideas of those different than us. In particular for this show, people in different stages of our lives than us (important to remember that if you’re a college student, you aren’t so much older than any of the artists presenting at this showcase). It’s not because we don’t want to or have something against it: it’s just an easy rut to fall into. A lot of this work looks better than I’ve seen famous artists do, and unfortunately it’s not as easily accessible to a broad audience. This is special: take advantage of it to build community with yourself and those around you.

Jada Batts’ piece ‘Balance’

That begs the question: What communities are we a part of in DC? Our neighborhoods, our schools, our society at large? Where are the lines drawn and where do we put up barriers between who is part of which community? Akilah Johnson’s work really catches my eye on this subject. Broadening and troubling the definitions aforementioned, she writes: “My community and I do not only share the same characteristics as far as race and skin color but also the same passion to better ourselves and each other.” Unfortunately, you don’t see that passion everywhere, and it’s a shame that the media you see about Southeast/East of the River aren’t always about that passion, giving people who don’t live there a distorted view of what it really is.

The pieces are all unique and complement each other in different and interesting ways that you won’t want to miss. Come see it for yourself! The gallery will be open for viewing  from February 28th to March 30th, Monday-Friday: 11 AM - 7 PM, Saturday: 10 AM - 2 PM, Sunday: Hours vary. Call ahead at 202-889-5901.