BY HELEN PARSHALL — A new exhibit inside Studio SoHy’s “tiny hall” is giving neighbors the chance to gather after the Women’s March on Washington to “connect and resist.” Community members came together Saturday for an afternoon of activism and fellowship and to view an archive of posters relating to the march at the installation’s opening.
The posters were collected from workshops at neighboring Pyramid Atlantic Art Center and prints designed by screen-printing company Soul & Ink, while other posters were donated by residents from the day of the Women’s March. Some were dropped off at the opening and hung up on the spot.
“I didn’t get a chance to participate in the women’s march, but the imagery is one of the most profound things I remember when looking at news coverage or photos my friends posted,” said Candace Hollingsworth, mayor of Hyattsville.
“This exhibit is really exciting because it’s all of the messages at once,” said Hollingsworth. “There’s so much consistency in the messaging — even though they’re saying different things. They’re all marching to the same beat.”
The exhibit is a showcase of artistic talents in the community, with some posters even incorporating more three-dimensional aspects such as yarn. Some posters bore common slogans from the 2016 campaign such as “women’s rights are human rights” and “love trumps hate,” but others went a step further in playing on tropes and imagery surrounding the new administration.
“I went to the march, but as I look around this room I’m lamenting my creativity,” joked Marty Ittner, who serves on the board of Pyramid Atlantic. “The flip side of the upsetting things happening is that people are energized and motivated to create.”
Bronwyn King, the curator of the event, said she wanted to build on the energy felt during the Women’s March.
“The feeling during the march was so great, but how do we keep it going?” she asked. “The evolving installation is one way that we may keep an important dialogue going during this time of great uncertainty,” King wrote on the announcement for the show’s opening.
Postcards reading “resist hate assist love,” designed by local artist Betsy Martin, were laid out on a table near the entrance to the studio for people to write letters to Maryland representatives.
“I didn’t go to the march, so this is something I felt like I could do to be involved,” said Martin. “I feel like art was such a big part of the march and now it’s being expanded. It’s a way to express what we’ve all been feeling.”
Soul & Ink, a mobile screen-printing company run by husband and wife duo Frankie and Sherry Meneses, set up a table at one end of the studio to print t-shirts and posters featuring some of the protest designs. They donated a portion of the proceeds of the shirts to the local artists involved in the designs, and an additional 10 percent of sales to the ACLU.
“I see this as an extension of what we’ve always been doing,” said Sherry Meneses. “We design for social justice.”
The exhibit will be an evolving space over the next several weeks as posters rotate in and out and more are donated.
“We feel like artists are the unacknowledged legislators of the world,” said Gretchen Schermerhorn, artistic director of Pyramid Atlantic. “This exhibit is all about the power of print and the written word.”