Public Programs at the Hyde Park Art Center marks its official launch this spring equinox with Beginning to See the Light: an exploration into the experiences and obsessions that generate collective joy & happiness. This related exhibition was curated by the inagural Public Programs Manager, Ariel Gentalen.
Written in 1977 for the Village Voice, Ellen Willis’s essay of the same name explores the ever shifting politics of freedom and the fight for equality through the lens of the radical shift felt during the 60’s rock and roll revolution, into the tumbling onslaught of rage centered punk, all while questioning how exclusionary these movements have been to those outside the cultural standard (i.e. cis, white, het, able-bodied) without uplifting alternative forms or voices.
Grounded in the essence of rock and roll, Beginning to See the Light is a visual jam session we all play within. Music has always been essential to revolution and remains a wealthspring of inspiration and hope but also a space for venting, a call to attention and a platform, that can be utilized to press for change. Or as our current day Willis, critic Jessica Hopper wrote in 2002, “Because there is a void in my guts which can only be filled by songs.”
The everyday can seem impossible, and Light seeks to make it hopeful through rotating pop up exhibitions, interactive activities, tender dialogues, and community gatherings for music, poetry, honesty, empathy and time spent presently together. Searching to foil the energy present in our current lived environment, we ask our visitors to prioritize their own joy in this moment.
This project is curious if there are new ways we want to understand the world and feel connected to each other, when we have exhausted other forms of social or online engagement. What are ways we can create happiness, and shared collective joy by taking time to reflect on where we have been, where we are, and where we would like to go? How can we learn to not just listen, but hear and understand? How can we manifest the change we long for in small, collective action? How to balance survival of the self and survival of the planet?
Or as Willis directs us: “I just thought that the question they ought to ask was not “How can I make them like me?” but “How can I make them hear me?”
Visit the exhibition’s Tumblr page here.