Sharing the untold story is this artist’s mission.
This is a woman who looks at everything she does—dance, poetry, visual arts—as a form of writing. “I can write with words, write with bodies, write with images,” says Holly Bass, a beloved DC-based multidisciplinary talent who highlights subjects like race and gender via her art. “There are stories I feel that need to be... amplified, particularly about black life in America.” (Her inspiration is Toni Morrison; the author started writing novels because there were books she wanted to read that didn’t exist.) It’s why Bass supports adjudicated young people; for the past four years, she’s run a program at the Youth Services Center in Northeast that offers poetry and hip-hop writing workshops. She’s a teaching artist for Shout Mouse Press and an adjunct professor at GWU. And she’s received a grant from the DC Arts Center for a new performance series with Sherman Fleming that will debut in June as part of the organization’s 30th anniversary. After all, she says, “I like exploring the directions society could take and using that to create art that envisions a more just world.”
She’s leading the rebirth of the AIB with new ideas.
Arts and Industries Building director Rachel Goslins is drawn to “big, juicy ideas.” It’s what makes the DC resident, formerly the executive director of the President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities under Obama, perfect for the title she’s held since 2016: She’s restoring the venue as a hub for inspiration. (It opened in 1881 as America’s first national museum and has been largely dormant since 2004.) She spent her first year learning from previous work; now, she’s stepping into a forward-facing role to shed light on the space, which has shown technology such as Edison’s lightbulb and served as the first home for almost every other Smithsonian collection, like first ladies’ gowns. On Dec. 7, the building will open for one of the few times over the last 14 years for the second Long Conversation, with speakers like actress Alfre Woodard and writer David Brooks. “The [speakers] come with one idea from their field that makes them hopeful,” says Goslins. As for the AIB’s future, she is working to open it permanently and achieve her goal: “It will be the place the DC creative community comes to play.”
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