Friday, January 6, 2012

Art + Impact: AMA

While AMA is not a household name (yet), we actually do a lot of really interesting things outside our gallery walls.

Aside from showcasing amazing art from the Americas, we are also charged with the task of creating a positive impact in the world through our museum's mission as well as our being a part of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose core values are to promote human rights, democracy, justice, and security (if you don't know what the OAS is, you should look it up, it's a pretty cool institution). Our efforts in this area range from the choices we make in selected art for exhibitions to international programs to keep at-risk youth off the streets. Much of these efforts are less visible to the public, but I am going to use this platform to help shed some light on the "behind the scenes" work we are engaged in.

Not a bad neighborhood, huh?

To begin this new series, I'd like to go back a bit and talk about Tent Life: Haiti, a photo exhibition by Wyatt Gallery (a person, not a place). The show took place in the OAS | AMA F Street Gallery at 1889 F Street, NW. Though our gallery space is less known then our museum, we've been receiving quite a bit of positive press on our (usually photography) exhibitions there. Tent Life was no exception. Gallery traveled to Haiti to document the life of displaced Haitians following the devastating 2010 earthquake there.

from "Tent Life: Haiti" by Wyatt Gallery

The series of photographs range from the uplifting to the down-right depressing; however, what binds them together is a candid sense of perseverance. As the Washington City Paper put it, "is it appropriate to find transcendence in photographs of abject poverty?" It's not the kind of work that says "look at these poor, helpless people" nor does it say "look how great they're doing under horrifying conditions", rather it comes across as a well-crafted documentary and calls on the viewer to enter - and empathize with - another human being's experience. During the exhibition, and after, a book with the same title as the exhibit was - and is still - being sold to raise money to support relief efforts in Haiti and all proceeds from the book go to Haiti. The book is really beautiful, contains all the photos from the exhibit, and more photos that we didn’t have room for. (This isn’t a sales pitch, I promise. I bought one for myself. Ok, maybe a bit of a sales pitch, but it’s totally worth it.)

Exhibits like Tent Life: Haiti serve to accomplish many aspects of our mission. We are bringing talented, contemporary artists to Washington, DC, bridging cultural gaps between different cultures of the Americas, as well as promoting a positive impact in the world by creating greater awareness of social issues in our global community. The selection of artwork is probably the most basic of ways the museum accomplishes our mission.

 Next up: One of our current exhibit, Common Place...

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