CulturalDC’s Flashpoint Gallery Presents The Marginalia Archive

By Editorial Team on April 30, 2015

Fri, 01 May 2015 - Sat, 30 May 2015

Photo courtesy of CulturalDC’s Flashpoint Gallery.
Photo courtesy of CulturalDC’s Flashpoint Gallery.


Opening Reception: Friday, May 1 from 6pm to 8pm


CulturalDC is pleased to present The Marginalia Archive, Molly Springfield’s twelfth solo exhibition and her first at Flashpoint Gallery. Springfield, known for her meticulously rendered graphite drawings of photocopies of printed books, often makes work that considers the changing nature of reading in an era of digital transformation.

Springfield’s Marginalia Archive is an interactive installation examining relationships between readers and texts. The source material—contemporary examples of marginalia (readers’ annotations), which Springfield has been soliciting since 2007—is collected into a functioning archive that viewers can browse and to which they can contribute during the exhibition.

For this latest iteration of the project, Springfield takes advantage of Flashpoint’s location across the street from D.C.’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library by incorporating found marginalia from the library into the archive. In contrast to previous submissions—which included forms completed by participants explaining what the marginalia meant to them—the found annotations were made by anonymous library patrons. The who, when, and why of the underlining and commentary remains a mystery. But both kinds of marginalia testify to the potential of the printed page as a public space—a space where readers leave evidence of their engagement with an author’s work.

Springfield takes that evidence and uses it as source material for large-scale, multi-panel graphite drawings. She enlarges text and image, and in some drawings forms new words and phrases between panels. The drawings create an additional layer of annotation (marginalia on the marginalia) but also underscore the endurance and breakdown of the materiality of language in contemporary digital culture.

Visitors to Flashpoint are invited to contribute their own marginalia to the archive at any point during the month of May. A copier machine in the gallery will facilitate participation, and Springfield will hold regular office hours in the gallery every Saturday (May 2, 9, 16, 23, 30) from 3-6pm to receive and process submissions in person and to discuss the archive with visitors. To encourage engagement with a broader audience, selections from the archive will also be displayed on the second floor of the MLK Library, next to the public reading rooms.

About the Artist
Molly Springfield lives in Washington, D.C. Her most recent solo exhibitions have taken place at Galerie Thomas Zander (Cologne, Germany) and Steven Wolf Fine Arts (San Francisco). Recent museum exhibitions include The Drawing Center (New York); The Hafnarborg Museum (Iceland); the Indianapolis Museum of Art; The Portland Museum of Art; and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Reviews of Springfield’s work have appeared in Artforum, Art Papers, Modern Painters, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Village Voice, Washington Post, and San Francisco Chronicle. Her work has also been included in books including The Thing The Book: A Monument to the Book as Object (2014), Invalid Format: An Anthology of Triple Canopy (2014) and It Is Almost That: A Collection of Image+Text Work by Women Artists & Writers (2011).

Springfield’s work is included in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Sally & Wynn Kramarsky Collection. She received her MFA from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004, and was a participant at Skowhegan in 2006. She is the recipient of several DCCAH Artist Fellowships, including one that supports the Flashpoint exhibition.

About CulturalDC’s Visual Arts Program
CulturalDC operates Flashpoint and produces public art interventions throughout DC. We nurture talented emerging and mid-career artists by providing opportunities for peer learning and mentorship. At Flashpoint Gallery we showcase bold, new work from artists working in a variety of media including site-specific installations, performance pieces, new media and other experimental forms. As a nonprofit gallery free from the constraints of commercial expectations, Flashpoint provides artists and curators a unique opportunity to take creative risks. An advisory panel of noted artists and arts professionals makes programming recommendations for the gallery and provides mentorship and support to exhibiting artists.

CulturalDC is generously supported by the Kresge Foundation, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, The Marpat Foundation, The Abramson Family Foundation, The Community Foundation for the National Capitol Region, The National Endowment for the Arts, Jon and NoraLee Sedmak, Washington Gas, Daimler, Microsoft, Edward Lenkin & Roselin Atzwanger, Nordstrom, Inc. and Marvin.

Gallery Hours:

  • Wednesday – Saturday, 12-6pm
  • or by appointment

Flashpoint Gallery is located at 916 G Street NW. For more information visit