Capitol Hill Arts Workshop Launches The 50 States Project, a Mobile Residency Program

By Editorial Team on March 18, 2019

Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW) is excited to announce the launch of The 50 States Project, a groundbreaking mobile artist residency. Beginning Fall 2019, painter Kate Fleming and photographer Tom Woodruff will spend a year traveling in a small camper van to all 50 states, exploring regional similarities and differences through art.  This national, artist-led project will concurrently serve as a mobile classroom for students at CHAW in a new Social Justice youth arts program, striving to raise critical consciousness, build community, and motivate students to promote social change through artistic means. For more information, please visit www.the50statesproject.com and follow the artists on Instagram at @the50statesproject_.

Yellowstone by Tom Woodruff. Courtesy of CHAW.

“Meaningful conversation is largely absent amid the intense division and discord found across the American landscape today,” says Amy Moore, CHAW’s Executive Director. “CHAW believes artists are uniquely situated to contribute by capturing and interpreting the ideals of our nation. Alongside the residency, CHAW’s new youth Social Justice program will allow students to explore how art has been used as a means to record history, shape culture, cultivate imagination, and harness individual and social transformation.”

Nelsonville Shell Station by Kate Fleming. Courtesy of CHAW.

As they travel to all 50 states, artists Kate and Tom will conduct their own individual research, producing works of visual art engaging with a particular theme or research question of their choosing. The artists will anchor their trip with stops at arts organizations across the country, engaging with at least one formal arts community in each state. Upon returning to DC in the fall of 2020, the artists will present their research through an exhibition, public programs, and an exhibit catalogue which will be shared with the communities they will have visited.

“By physically immersing ourselves in other American cultures during both an election year and a census year, we will learn and share the stories of our fellow Americans,” says artist Kate Fleming. “The artworks we create along the way will act as a vehicle through which others can experience and develop empathy for these people and places.”

Near Toyota Dealership by Kate Fleming. Courtesy of CHAW.

About the artists:

Headshot of Kate Fleming. Courtesy of CHAW.

Kate Fleming is a painter, printmaker, muralist, and installation artist based in her hometown of Arlington, Virginia. She has shown her work throughout the DC area and across the U.S. at galleries and mural festivals including POW! WOW! DC; Site:Brooklyn in New York; and Flatbed Press in Austin. Kate was artist-in-residence at CHAW in the Spring of 2018 and she has also completed residencies at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Amherst, Virginia and Penland School of Craft in Bakersville, NC. Additionally, Kate has worked as a set designer with CHAW’s resident theater company, Taffety Punk, whom she met during her residency at CHAW. Kate conducted an artistic survey of biodiversity in North Carolina in 2017 with fellow artist Kristen Orr, painting her way across the state on an intensive seven-day road trip.

Headshot of Tom Woodruff. Courtesy of CHAW.

Tom Woodruff is a photojournalism graduate student at Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication, with an expected completion date of May 2019. He has undertaken multiple long-term photographic studies of place, including photo essays on tourism and the National Mall, gentrification of DC’s Massachusetts Avenue, and perseverance of community in the small coal mining town of Hemlock, Ohio. Tom works to develop trust with the communities he photographs through his working philosophy of empathy, rather than of exploitation. In 2019, Tom was a finalist for the Reinke Grant for Visual Storytelling. Kate and Tom spent six months traveling around Australia in 2016, living and traveling in a camper van for two months of the trip. In 2017, the pair presented their Australian artworks in a two-person collaborative exhibition at Falls Church Arts in Falls Church, Virginia.

(via CHAW. Photos courtesy of CHAW.)