For the next month—through September 18, 2023—there is an outdoor art exhibition to explore across National Mall, from the plaza in front of the Lincoln Memorial to Constitution Gardens and sites near the Washington Monument. The Trust for the National Mall, National Park Service, and the National Capital Planning Commission, with curator Monument Lab, selected six artists for Beyond Granite: Pulling Together. The goal: to “create a more inclusive, equitable, and representative commemorative landscape on the National Mall.”
The installations offer a striking contrast to the Mall’s permanent memorials. While articles on Beyond Granite abound (The New York Times and The Washington Post, among others, have covered it), it’s worth a visit if you’re in Washington, DC, to experience it for yourself. Written descriptions and photographs never quite capture the Mall, with its mix of tourists and locals enjoying the space and enlivening the monumental expanse, and cannot fully convey the installations’ sound and interactive components. On the sunny Saturday when I visited, the Mall was abuzz, as usual, with tour groups big and small, joggers, rugby players, dog walkers, picnickers… My impression was that many more people stumbled upon the exhibition than specifically sought it out. When you ascend the steps of the National Gallery of Art, or any of the Mall’s other grand structures, you know what you’re in for. But when you have an unexpected encounter with something new in an otherwise familiar landscape or setting, it can be a very different experience of art—one that surprises you into engaging with a perspective you might not have otherwise.
If you can’t make it to the exhibition, here are a few photographs from the opening weekend.
Reimagining how history is memorialized and how previously untold stories can be shared will be explored at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture this fall, where sessions include:
Remembering the Children: Rapid City Indian Boarding School Lands Project and Memorial
This powerful session will lead attendees on a journey through history, injustice, remembrance, and reconciliation around the Rapid City Indian Board School. Panelists will discuss the Indigenous-led community-driven collaborative projects that are addressing this difficult history while reworking the physical landscape and collective memory of this northern Great Plains city.
Making History: Participatory Design to Commemorate Park Histories in LA’s Salazar Park
This session outlines how landscape architects can reveal hidden park histories, and make them compelling to diverse audiences today. Through a case study of Los Angeles’s Salazar Park—a key site in Latino history—panelists will describe innovative methods for designing programs and park features that drive engagement and celebrate those stories.
Designing an Equitable and Inclusive Experience in the Balboa Cultural District
Planning team partners will reflect on their work with San Diego’s Balboa Park Cultural District to create a more distinctive and inclusive experience through the development of an equity-centered vision. Learn how this strategy reflected the rich and diverse culture of this trinational region.
Register by September 12 for the advance rate—see you in Minneapolis this October 27-30!