The list of interesting things to do and see in our nation’s capital—indoors and out—is endless. A lightning trip there last week gave us the chance to see temporary exhibits featuring Rosa Parks and Laurie Anderson that we greatly enjoyed.
Performance artist Laurie Anderson’s work has taken over the entire second floor of the Hirschhorn Museum, and it’s thought-provoking and entertaining by turns. Titled “The Weather,” the exhibition is on view until the end of July 2022, the largest-ever US exhibition of her work. There are soundscapes (using the instruments she’s designed), fascinating visuals (including photos of her sleeping in various unlikely places), and works large (entire rooms) and small (tiny holograms of people).
Not to miss are her written statements about the work, which add immeasurably to the experience. One room, walls and floor painted black like a chalkboard, is emblazoned with hand-drawn figures and sayings that are by turns full of pathos, humor, and insight (video here). In that room also is an enormous crow made from shiny black plastic and a parrot intoning nonsense.
If I had to sum it up, I’d say it’s a homage to creativity.
A second highlight was a visit to the main building of the Library of Congress, now open again to the public. Docents are scattered around (and available on screen) to explain the building features, which are nothing short of spectacular!
We also spent time in the temporary exhibit, “Rosa Parks in Her Own Words,” and had the good fortune to be guided by an exhibit curator. When Rosa Parks would not give up her bus seat to a white man on December 1, 1955, and catalyzed the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott, she was no stranger to Civil Rights activism. Her work to free the Scottsboro Boys and with the NAACP and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters extended from the 1930s up to that fateful day.
Her own letters to friends and family and Civil Rights leaders give a well-rounded picture of this dedicated American. Though she lived many years in extreme poverty, she eventually garnered many honors and honorary degrees. After her death in 2005, she became the first woman to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.