Engaging Arlington History: Passage and The Day Nothing Happened

Thursday / February 18 / 6pm - 7:00pm EST

Join Janet Kopenhaver, Director, Embracing Arlington Arts, to discuss how artists engage with history. The discussion will feature visual artist Lynda Andrews-Barry, Madaline Langston, from Encore Stage & Studio, and Taylor Welch and Yahney-Marie Sangare, participants in Encore’s Flip the Script project.

In 2019, local students involved in Encore Stage & Studio’s Flip the Script program developed The Day Nothing Happened, an original theater production about the desegregation of Stratford Junior High School in Arlington in 1959. Developed in consultation with historians and community members, The Day Nothing Happened draws on local history to encourage dialogue about Arlington’s past and present. Directed by Madaline Langston, The Day Nothing Happened has been presented at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, Busboys & Poets in Shirlington, VA, and at schools across Arlington. Flip the Script The Day Nothing Happened provided selected scenes for Arlington’s 51st Annual Tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. entitled Prayers of a King: the Story of Desegregation in Arlington.

For Passage, a site-specific installation at Arlington Arts Center, Lynda Andrews-Barry drew inspiration from her own family history and from the legacy of Matthew Fontaine Maury. A pioneer of naval navigation and commander in the United States Navy, Maury resigned his post in 1861 to become a leader in the Confederate Navy. Arlington Arts Center’s historic building originally housed the Clarendon School, which was renamed the Maury School in 1944. Passage includes 26 sculptures designed to evoke the ships of the transatlantic slave trade and Maury’s role as a naval navigator and Confederate leader.

Both The Day Nothing Happened and Passage draw inspiration from local history and ask their viewers to grapple more specifically with the ongoing legacy of racism in Arlington and in Virginia more broadly. In this conversation, we’ll discuss how artists work with history, including how they draw on the past to inspire their work and how their projects can cultivate dialogue and create change.

This conversation is presented in conjunction with AAC’s presentation of Passage, which was commissioned through  a unique partnership between AAC and the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. The work was funded by the Foundation’s Ross-Roberts Fund for the Arts, and is undertaken in cooperation with Arlington Public Art.

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