Saturday, February 14, 2015
Artists at Work
When: through May 1, 2015
It's been a while since I've been to the Ripley to see a show, and I've missed going. You get a workout walking up and down the steps to the exhibit area, and there's always the fun of walking into this little building and entering a huge subterranean expanse.
This show is in the Concourse, just like the other shows I've seen here recently. I couldn't remember when I last saw something in the International Gallery, so I looked it up - it's been over two years. I don't know why they've not had anything in there: budget cuts, repair, renovation, no big shows? It's not the most glamorous space, but I miss it nonetheless.
For now, this display is the fourth exhibit of artworks by people who work at the Smithsonian. They draw entries from full-time employees, interns, volunteers, retirees, anyone who works (or worked) there. Lest you think this is some display of poor items put up out of charity, know that this is a juried art show and that only about 1/3 of the entries make it into this exhibit.
I liked Sherry Winkelman's quilt very much. It's a design that's meant to represent the data exchange between the archives where she works and the scientists who use it. She turned her job description into art (and a lovely quilt).
The wall notes tell you something about the artists and their jobs. Ann Gordon, who volunteers at the Museum of American Art, offered this quote: "Looking at reproductions is not as informative as being with the real thing." Very true, and something I've experienced many times when I see an actual piece that I've seen reproduced before. No matter how good the photograph, nothing beats the real thing.
Robyn Johnson-Ross created a flash animation of items from the Luce Center. She's made the folk art displayed there come to life. True, I wish she had incorporated the tinfoil sculpture that I love so much into her film, but that's a small complaint.
Verdict: I'm always inspired by the hidden talents of those who work for the Smithsonian. As if running these wonderful museums and research centers weren't enough, they're artists as well. Take time to travel underground and see this small show.