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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Holiday season started yesterday with the artist's reception at N.I.A.D. (National Institute for Artists with Disabilities) ... .

followed by a trip to the Richmond Museum of History that was featuring a new exhibit of the city's WWII years with many items I'd not seen before, and with especial emphasis on the home front stories. It's a fine show.

When I arrived at the museum and walked past the refreshment table I could hear my own voice being amplified above the conversations of the guests. Couldn't quite make out what I was saying, but the voice drew me deeper into the gallery to find my image; a huge projection against the wall of the darkened room. Directly across and facing mine was an equally large image of my young interviewer, Rodrigo. We were in earnest conversation across the space now opened up to public view. It was magical!

The gallery was empty except for a row of about a dozen chairs lined up against two opposing walls for those who wanted to experience "The Richmond Voting Project," designed by artist Sanjit Sethi for the Richmond Art Center's Public Arts program. This was the multimedia exhibit that I'd participated in with Rodrigo a few weeks ago. Ours was one of four conversations between teens and elders presented in the work. On the north/south walls were projections of our "talking heads" in a most interesting multimedia art piece.

Since the invitation to participate had come early on that Friday morning with no preparation for the late afternoon taping -- I couldn't recall just what we'd talked about except in broad strokes. Given my active civic life, enough time has past that I've forgotten all but the purpose of the piece; sharing our earliest experiences as voters with the young people. Yesterday I wanted nothing more than to be able to sit with the show and hear myself and my young interviewer -- to have some sense of what I'd projected to the many viewers who would experience this work. It was not to be. I'd arrived late (having come from the NIAD reception), and there were few people still around. The sound system was such that it was impossible to make any sense of it with the ambient sounds interfering -- but I do recall that -- on that day -- I'd come away with strong positive feelings about what we'd done, and was perfectly happy to have whatever the "it" was shared with the community.

But I'd still give a lot to know something more about the content ... maybe I'll be able to convince someone to allow me to be in the museum alone, one of these days, so that I can have some sense of just why I felt so good about it. Maybe it's one of those things one shouldn't re-examine. Maybe feeling good about having done it is all that's needed.

Seeing oneself projected large enough to fill a entire wall of a gallery is pretty overwhelming, but seeing that beautiful young face of Rodrigo looking interested from the opposite wall -- and quite involved in our conversation compensated for outrageously magnified age spots, wrinkles, stray hairs, and anything else that my ego may have wished were otherwise.

Yesterday was a good day.

Photo: Holiday card by NIAD artist Sylvia Fragoso. I look forward each year to the sale of the artist's work - these cards are so fine! You may find more on the NIAD website and can order by mail, I believe.

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