This blog initially began with the premise of visiting a new museum every week. Now, it has been about two months since I’ve gone on a Weekly Museum Visit; however, I now spend five days per week surrounded by art and history at the US Capitol. Besides the obvious examples (the frescoes in the Rotunda, the catafalque in Exhibition Hall), there are other pockets of the museum-like among the locations where I am posted at work.
One of these is the Cannon tunnel, where 441 works of two-dimensional art are on display, all by high school students. Each congressional district (and jurisdiction with a non-voting delegate) holds an annual art competition, and the 441 winning works of art hang in the Cannon tunnel for a year.
Every day, as staff and interns from Members’ offices give tours to constituents, they have the same conversation as they pass the tunnel art, no matter which image they are looking at: Isn’t it amazing that a high school student made this?
To be sure: the talent of these teenagers is amazing. And I certainly would be honored to have anything I made hanging anywhere in the Capitol complex. But I imagine that there are at least 441 different conversations that artists would like viewers to have in this tunnel, thoughts and questions and impressions they’d like to provoke beyond “How prodigious!”
The works are arranged by state, with four pieces of information provided per artwork: name of artist, title of work, medium, and Member of Congress. In the absence of context about any one piece, I find myself walking the length of the tunnel, looking for accidental themes in the collection as a whole. There are three lions. A few works with strawberries, including two that sit side-by-side. Lots of American flags, a few blue and green marbles. I like to try to find all the dogs as I walk by. (There are about ten of them.)
One of these dogs is Best Friend by Lindsay Bahureksa, chosen by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. The dog in Best Friend reminds me of Duncan as a puppy, and I bet Bahureksa loves her best friend almost as much as I love mine. 🙂