call response

'Call + Response' Challenges Artistic Norms

Recently opened at the Hamiltonian Gallery on U Street was the third annual “Call + Response.” Writers and visual artists are paired together for a unique experience: the writer creates a work - the “call”, and the artist creates a work in return - the “response.”

This year for the first time ever the writers were invited to see the artists’ responses and then create a final re-response to complete the exchange. At the gallery opening the audience was encouraged to continue the exchange by using pieces of paper to create a “call” in response to the exhibit, for which their neighbor would return a “response.” All of these paper exchanges are now tacked onto the gallery walls.

Artist exchange permeates the entire exhibit. During a vivid opening panel discussion the writers and artists were surprisingly forthcoming about the collaborative experience.

Though it is obvious that the artist pairings were not randomly selected, most of the pairings admitted that the project was a significant departure from their normal creative processes — some even claiming that the whole experience changed the way they think about their art-making.

In spite of the fact that “Call + Response” is only open for 2 weeks, it is not a mere blip on the D.C. art scene. The artists’ lack of simply creating direct illustrations to accompany the authors’ writing reveals a surprising aesthetic moving away from visual narrative.

Each pairings’ work is somehow a distinct, yet related, entity. The masterful collaborations of “Call + Response” not only encourage artists involvement - but also invent new modes for artistic demonstration.

The artists included in the project are: Michael Kimball (writer) and Trever Young (artist), Reb Livingston (writer) and Matthen Mann (artist), Danielle Evans (writer) and Lisa Marie Thalhammer (artist), Amber Sparks (writer) and Yay Team! (artists), Kyle Dargan (writer) and Mia Feuer (artist). “Call + Response” was open at the Hamiltonian Gallery from June 2 - June 16, 2012. The Hamiltonian Gallery is located at 1353 U St. N.W. Washington, D.C.

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