August 2, 2022
Washington, D.C.: Environmental Justice
Many state arts agencies run state galleries, artist showcases and juried exhibitions to support and highlight the work of artists in their states. These services often are used to facilitate public access to the arts and highlight communities, artists or issues that may normally face barriers to receiving creative recognition. The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) has joined this practice with its first juried exhibition: Fragile Beauty.
The DCCAH juried exhibition, a project of the Public Art Department, featured an issue not often represented in state arts agency programming: the intersection of climate change and social justice, i.e., environmental justice. The exhibit, which was on view in DCCAH’s galleries and available virtually, explored how artists and art can illuminate and advocate for a better relationship with our environment. It featured artistic perspectives on ecology, environmentalism, biodiversity, climate change, stewardship, climate justice and other related issues. Selected artists received grant awards of $787. Four jurors—selected from previous DCCAH Art Exhibition (Curatorial) grantees—evaluated submitted art on three distinct criteria:
- The artwork has visual impact and technical skill, as well as being conceptually inventive or intellectually stimulating.
- The artwork aligns with the theme of environmental justice.
- The artwork represents the cultural diversity of the D.C. artistic community.
Using the juried exhibit as a starting point for discussion, DCCAH then curated a series of community events to accompany the exhibit and explore the impact of climate change. An artist showcase on eco-friendly and sustainable clothing featured four artists creating and discussing sustainable fashion. DCCAH also hosted a Film and Flood Resilience session (recording available) that featured two artists, an architectural designer and planner, and a D.C. Department of Energy & Environment Equity and Engagement Program analyst. To end the exhibition, DCCAH held a Climate Pledge Workshop with Bangladeshi-American artist Monica Jahan Bose to discuss strategies for climate action. Participants had the opportunity to engage in a public art project in which they could write climate pledges on sari that would then be used in later installations and performances. For more information on the juried exhibition and programming, contact DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Curator Sarah Gordon.
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