A dreamy project!

The Concrete Dreams public art installation was a fantastic four day event in Adams Morgan at the DC Arts Center, culminating many months of work on the project by people from DC to Katakhali Village, Bangladesh. The saris were installed on the roof of the DC Arts Center on May 19 and stayed up until May 23 evening. The stele sculptures covered with poetry in Bangla and English were installed and deinstalled every day from May 20-23. The dedication of the public art project was May 20th at 7 pm and included remarks from B. Stanley, Alissa Maru, Nafisa Isa, Christie Walser, Elizabeth Brandt, Robin Bell, Maps Glover, Monica Jahan Bose, and poetry from Rashika Johnson, Lia Totty, Jaelan Mitchell, Robbin Ebb, and Philip Mecham. Hundreds of people came by to see the installation, and many more saw it while walking by, eating at an outdoor restaurant, and from their cars or buses or online during the livestreams.

You can see the dedication livestream here.

We had projections on the saris on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night by artist and filmmaker Robin Bell. The projections included video of the women in Katakhali Village, Bangladesh printing and painting on the saris, the participants in DC writing poetry on saris, and the words of the poems themselves were also projected.

The Poetry Slam on Saturday May 22 was a lively event with poetry recited by Ahmad Woodard, Rashika Johnson, Jonothan Bethea, Robin Ebb, Sonja Berry, Philip Mecham and remarks by Ben De Guzman, Kishan Putta, and Leah Stoddard. Sonja also sang the Sam Cooke song Change is Gonna Come, and I even recited one of my poems. Tickets were sold out and more than 50 people stayed and watched the whole time, while many more watched online and from across the street. Here is the livestream video from the Poetry Slam.

We had wonderful warm weather and the white saris covered in poetry and woodblocks were beautifully swaying in the wind. The sound of poetry merged with the sounds of the street and the many bands that were playing outdoors. On the final day, Sunday, I met with many people and gave walk-throughs of the installation.

Thank you to everyone who came, to all the people in DC and Bangladesh who worked on the saris and poetry, to Robin Bell and Sora Yamahira, B. Stanley, Maps Glover, Jamal Gray, Timotheo Murphy, Paris Preston, Nirmal Raja, Tara Ali Asgar, Leena Jayaswal, Leah Lewis, Leah Stoddard, and the Fearless Artist team, Kiki Somerville, Deja Ross, and Maggie Walsh.

Funded by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Public Art Building Communities Grant Program.

— Monica Jahan Bose, June 8, 2021

Photos by Sora Yamahira and Deja Ross.

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