We’ve spent a lot of time this week trying to explain visual exhibits through sound and text, which makes this stop on our tour of Hidden City Festival destinations particularly relevant.
As with every Hidden City exhibit, the experience was as much about the place as it was about the work of the artist herself. And the Athenaeum is an incredible space: a rare book collection founded in 1814 and both built and named in classical Greek and Roman style.
It’s gorgeous–with curlicued couches and an old, giant globe, the main reading room is a golden space with oak bookshelves and leaded glass panes.
She used a variety of historical source to reproduce the colors, and collected all of those into a series of books, one for each part of the house. Each color is juxtaposed with a fitting line of Poe’s text.
The text paired with color forces you to consider how the colors surrounding Poe in his home might have had an effect on his lines of poetry.
This in itself would have been interesting enough, but the setting renders the whole project that much more interesting as a meditation on the research process. Scott Blackson displays her research material intermixed with her final project, complete with her original notes (printed on the back of library catalog cards.)
It’s a really effective way of bringing the Athenaeum itself into the equation. Because you’re made aware of the research, and because the exhibit is in the research space itself, you start to wonder how the space influenced this project.
Check out our gallery from the exhibit, but also make sure to go and visit the Festival! It’s entirely worth your while.