A few months ago, around the time of my blogging hiatus, I chatting with a new acquaintance about how I’d been feeling uninspired and burned out lately. She happens to be a therapist, so I thought she might have some words of wisdom for me.
And she did. Her recommendation was that I dedicate at least one day each month to recharging my creative batteries. Some of her suggestions included spending time outdoors, attending a meditation retreat, and exploring DC’s many museums.
There was one catch, though. While I was trying to immerse myself in nature, art, or (obviously) zen, I couldn’t post to Instagram or Snapchat. I had to commit to being in the moment in whatever I was doing.
That might be a problem, I thought, since the museum I was eager to visit first was quickly becoming Instagram famous here in DC.
Awe-inspiring images from the “Wonder” exhibition at the Renwick Gallery had been popping up in my feed since the museum reopened in November, and I was dying to explore the room-size art installations in person. There were hot pink walls decorated with dead insects, mountains made of stacked index cards, and floor-to-ceiling rainbows of embroidery thread that would make perfect backdrops for selfies and snaps.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it downtown in January or February, but I made a firm decision to visit the Renwick Gallery on my birthday in March. I was actually looking forward to spending that Tuesday morning alone in DC; I’d leisurely explore “Wonder” and grab a bite to eat before returning home on the Metro.
Then Jordan announced he was taking off from work to spend my birthday with me. Certainly, I wasn’t going to refuse his company!
So on March 22, we spent a little over an hour walking in and out of the Renwick’s nine galleries, our jaws dragging on the floor beneath us as we tried to take in the exhibit’s dramatic and oversized installations. The breadth of the artwork, well, it took our breath away — which is sort of the point of the exhibition, according to museum curator Nicholas Bell.
In a Washington Post article about “Wonder,” Bell says, “When things are this significant in scale and oomph, you can’t just breeze by them. You have to confront it and figure out what your relationship to it is.”
If you’ve been thinking about confronting Wonder’s large-scale installations (and I strongly suggest you do), you’ll have to get yourself downtown quickly. The second-floor galleries — featuring wallpaper made from bugs, a labyrinth of recycled tires, a handwoven net illuminated with multicolored lights, a river of marbles, and a sculpture of a giant hemlock tree — close on May 8th. The remaining installations will be on view through July 10, 2016.
But if you can’t make it to DC, not to worry. You can always explore the #RenwickGallery hashtag on Instagram for a still-inspiring secondhand experience.
PS: And we did take some selfies, although not as many as I had anticipated. It turned out to be more exciting experiencing the exhibit than to trying to capture it for Instagram.
(All photos taken by me at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery.)