Artlab, the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden program for teen creators, is partnering with DC Public Schools’ Arts Department for “Light Your Fire,” the culminating showcase event for Artlab’s Emerging Artists program. “Light Your Fire” will be presented Saturday, June 11, 1–4 p.m. in the Hirshhorn’s Sculpture Garden and adjoining Artlab building. Students will share a collective public art piece, and accompanying performances will explore what it means to be human today. Reflecting on a 12-week exploration of public art, participants in the Emerging Artists program for teens have created a collective public art piece reimagining monuments and memorials. Responding to their location in Washington, D.C.—where every building, park and plaza has a story—the Emerging Artists have created art, performances and music to explore and highlight stories missing from the public narrative. Attendance to this showcase is free with no registration required.
“Light Your Fire” is dually inspired by Abigail DeVille’s sculpture “Light of Freedom” and Artlab’s focus on creating space for young people to use visual art to find their voice and access their power. Currently on view in the Hirshhorn’s outdoor Sculpture Garden on the National Mall, “Light of Freedom” is a critically acclaimed mixed-media installation through which DeVille responds to the Black Lives Matter movement within the larger context of America’s long relationship to the idea of liberty itself. “Light Your Fire” builds on the legacy of groundbreaking female artists like DeVille, the Guerrilla Girls, Laurie Anderson and others who harness public art to spotlight cultural contradictions and inequities.
Monuments, memorials and other symbols of power have been a fixture of Washington’s city landscape for hundreds of years. Over the past decade, the conversation about the role of monuments in society has expanded into a global topic, sparking the rethinking of public spaces around the world. Recent events have led people to question whose stories are being told by these symbols. The voices and stories of women—particularly those of Black, brown and Indigenous women—are vastly underrepresented in public monuments. Washington already has a rich history of public art that tells untold stories, particularly through murals on U Street, in Anacostia and in other neighborhoods around the city. “Light Your Fire” invites local teens to reflect on the Washington area and the nation’s stories and contribute their own perspectives through artmaking.
This project received support from the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative.
Designed for teen creators or makers looking to build their skills, Artlab at the Hirshhorn Museum is a creative arts program for ages 13 to 19. Since 2011, Artlab has given teens free access to the latest technology, artmaking materials and one-on-one mentorship in music production, digital art and more, all from working artists. With a variety of special programs and resources, ARTLAB cultivates community and fosters the next generation of artists and innovators. For more information, visit hirshhorn.si.edu/explore/about-artlab. Find it on social @ARTLAB.
About the Hirshhorn
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the national museum of modern and contemporary art and a leading voice for 21st-century art and culture. Part of the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn is located prominently on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Its holdings encompass one of the most important collections of postwar American and European art in the world. The Hirshhorn presents diverse exhibitions and offers an array of public programs on the art of our time—free to all. The Hirshhorn Museum building is open daily, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. The outdoor Sculpture Garden is open daily 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. For more information, visit hirshhorn.si.edu. Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
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