"Monument and Marker" Celebrates the Communal Power of Making Things
How do artists acknowledge community support in their artworks? "Monument" by Maren Hassinger and "Marker" by Rania Hassan represent two answers.
The two pieces make up Monument and Marker, a public art exhibition from the Smithsonian American Women's History Initiative and D.C.'s Golden Triangle Business Improvement District. "Marker" is on display on Connecticut Avenue in Washington through spring 2022. "Monument" was on display nearby through June 2021.
Dorothy Moss, curator of the project and curator of painting and sculpture at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery said, "It is thrilling to work with two feminist artists of different generations whose work amplifies women's experience. Maren Hassinger and Rania Hassan are committed to shining a light on the power of transformation and healing through work that builds community and connection."
Maren Hassinger worked with D.C. locals to build "Monument." Hassinger led a team of volunteers who collected branches from two D.C. parks, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and Kingsman Island. Volunteers also helped weave them together to form the sculpture's wedge shape. Through its creation process, "Monument" honors the physical and social achievements of the community.
Hassinger is an internationally recognized performance artist, sculptor, and professor based in New York City. This new work is part of her Monuments series, several sculptures first commissioned by the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York City. Sculptures in the series use sticks and branches from the local environment to build the artworks.
Hassinger wants her sculpture to remind people of their connection to nature and their community. She said, "'Monument' memorializes our place within the natural world. It reminds us in a gentle way of our origins and our purposes. We are all connected. Let us work together."
Rania Hassan's "Marker" is a monument to women's histories, contemporary experiences, and the fibers that connect people. The bright pink sculpture is based on the artist's knitting projects.
It can be interpreted as an oversized crown or an abstract knitting project that is at once unraveling and coming together.
Hassan said, "My artwork has been inspired by generations of women. It links me to my mother, her mother, and all the women who came before them—working with their hands, making things for their families and themselves, bringing people together, and connecting us in so many ways."
Hassan's bright pink hue and bold steel shape are contrasted by its curvy and elegant forms. Marker serves as a monument to women as makers. Women perform work that is often hidden from public view, and "Marker" makes their work visible and venerated.
Hassan, who lives in Washington, D.C., works in many mediums. Her artworks include sculpture, installations, drawings, and performances. She investigates human connection, time, memory, and identity.
You can visit "Marker" on the Connecticut Avenue median at K Street N.W. in Washington, D.C.
"Marker" by Rania Hassan. Photo courtesy of Golden Triangle BID.