It’s WONDER time!
Last Thursday March 23, 2016 as blooming cherry trees around Washington marked the arrival of the “most wonderful time of the year” in DC, SI interns and fellows joined in common spirit by participating in the tour of the WONDER exhibit at the Renwick Gallery. Debuting after 2-year renovation, this exhibition set record high attendance rates and created such an active social media response that WONDER became a buzzword for this season’s tourists and local community. The curator Nicholas R. Bell kindly agreed to unveil and share the exclusive story of bringing the exhibit to life.
Nine contemporary artists were invited to contribute pieces inspired by the unique history of the building. The resulting exhibition comprises several large-scale installations from materials ranging from rubber tires and marbles to willow branches, articulating individual creative responses to the space. A colored hand-woven net suspended in the air replicating a map of tsunami in Japan, mind-blowing fuchsia walls of a ‘curiosity shoppe’ room adorned with ornaments made of insects, strands of cotton embroidery recreating the chromatic scale that give visitors this WONDERful sense of being “somewhere over the rainbow”… Each exhibit invigorates thinking and challenges our understanding of (a) wonder, which can be revealed in and assembled from the everyday objects of our environment.
Nicholas Bell, the Fleur and Charles Bresler Senior Curator of American Craft and Decorative Art, has been at the Renwick Gallery since 2009. During the tour he shared his extensive knowledge of the museum history and contemporary American arts and culture. Quite wonderfully, his engaging talk evolved into an enthusiastic discussion with his avid audience encompassing such diverse topics as art techniques, creative process, subtleties of individual perceptions, theory of material culture, public relations in art management and… certainly the concept of wonder.
Indeed, as a quote on the walls of Renwick Gallery says, “the experience of the mysterious… is the fundamental emotion, which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
Thank you very much, Nicholas Bell, for the inspiration to be creative, to be curious, but first of all… to wonder!