Washington, DC - Photo Journal & Vlog // Episode 122
Hi everyone! I hope you're having a great day!! This week's video is a very meaningful one to me because it is all about my family's recent day trip to Washington, DC, and it holds a lot of amazing memories. I had so many thoughts about everything that we saw, so I actually ended up doing my English Midterm Project about the experience. Instead of a midterm exam, we had to create some kind of scrapbook, vlog, blog, or diary about how we've seen Transcendentalism's themes in our lives. Our most recent era of American literature we've been studying is Transcendentalism, and it happened to tie in perfectly to our trip. Here are my thoughts from the project!
Also, be sure to check out the vlog, and all of the photos I took on our trip. I used most of them for the project, so there's a gallery of all of them below.
Episode 122: https://youtu.be/x0k3N20lY0A
My Channel: (Edith Noble) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnXXLYRl1ImCPHpCqeFdilg?view_as=subscriber
The National Museum of Women in the Arts
This first blog post is all about the first place my family went once we got to Washington, DC during our day trip there a few weeks ago, which was the National Museum of Women in the Arts. We were planning to go to the Smithsonian Museum and the National Zoo, but since both were closed due to Covid-19, we decided to go to the only museum in that area that is open - The National Museum of Women in the Arts. This is still the only museum in the country entirely dedicated to women artists, and it was fascinating!
My dream job seems to change every other day, but it always involves some type of photography, so this gallery was so inspirational to see. The museum was just large enough that we finished in time for everyone to be tired of art, but not too exhausted to keep exploring the city, which is a very tedious line to balance on. The exhibit that inspired me the most was Justine Kurland's 'Return to Nature' photo gallery. A few of Justine Kurland's photos were shown in the 'Return to Nature' photo gallery, and her photos showed a group of uniformed school girls in different scenes in nature where uniformed school girls definitely wouldn't appear naturally. It showed the girls as rather disheveled, without shoes, but acting completely casual, which intrigued me because throughout almost all of elementary and middle school I was that uniformed private school girl. I enjoyed wearing the uniform some days, but other days it felt very restraining to not be able to express myself through my appearance. There is definitely a specific "preppy" culture around private schools, which made these photos of uniformed girls in nature seem extremely out of place. The photos show them as seeming carefree and unconcerned with their appearance, which is the complete opposite of the behaviors I've seen out of private school girls in real life.
The main reason why I love photography is because by taking pictures, you can capture feelings that otherwise would be lost or not seen almost immediately, good and bad. If you know me well, you know that I can hardly stand to not take a picture of something if it even catches my eye. I'm always pulling out my phone or camera to snap a photo of a random tree or someone walking in a certain manner on campus, and it definitely seems pretty strange sometimes. I just want to capture beautiful emotion. Whether that be a beautiful movement someone is performing - like dancing - or the way people interact in a space - like everyone at Grier going about their business. I think that's a big part of my personality - being afraid of letting beautiful feelings, things, or people slip away before I can document it somehow. That's probably why I've been documenting my life through YouTube videos and my blog since I was 12. I've always want to inspire others somehow, and over the years that has evolved to inspiring others through images and videos.
Lately I have been realizing how much I want to travel the world, mainly so that I can take beautiful pictures and share them with people who otherwise wouldn't be able to see or experience those places. This trip to Washington, DC, and specifically to the women's art museum, opened my eyes to everything that early female artists had to risk in order to create their art, such as their name (by creating artwork anonymously) or society's view of them. They also had to display incredible individualism because, until recent times, few female artists had support from society to keep creating anything except children. The self reliance that they created such art with inspires me so much.
How Nature Helps Us Remember
Our next stop on the trip was the National Mall and Monuments, which were all very moving. Something that I noticed in almost all of the monuments and memorials was the use of surrounding nature to express the emotions that the designers, and those affected by the events that caused the memorials, were and still are feeling. Nature is always changing and never the same two days in a row, so it was really cool to see how it was used to beautify memories of tragic events like World War II and the Vietnam War.
The World War II Memorial especially caught my interest, with its fountains and towering pillars for each state of the country. World War II is obviously a tragic event in world history, and whenever it's discussed in classes or conversations I always feel like a damper comes over the whole room, due to how we are still in a period of history where families are or could have family members who were affected by the events of war. That automatic damper associated with the subject made seeing a memorial to the subject displayed in such a beautiful way even more beautiful. I felt that the use of nature and the fountains in the middle of the circle of columns lightened the mood of those at the memorial. Kids were playing beside the fountains and many families were taking pictures with the Washington Monument in the background. It was very cool to see the diversity of everyone there, which was especially prominent because I saw different families or groups of people taking photos of each other in front of their home state's column, so the diversity of backgrounds was very apparent.
Another use of nature in the National Mall and Monuments was the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, which is 600 meters long and it truly reflects the surrounding scenes. Since we visited in late fall, I saw a lot of fallen leaves that had been trapped under the mirror of water, but other than that it was very clean. Something that made me notice how much nature can change people's experiences with these monuments and memorials was that, as we were walking beside the pool in the direction of the Lincoln Memorial, a couple pushing a stroller walked passed us and stopped at the very edge of the pool. The young toddler vigorously pointed and waved at the ducks in the water while the mother reminded her, "Duckies say quack quack, right?". She then turned to us walking by and knowingly said, "We just had to stop and see the duckies,". Not only did that make us all chuckle, but it reminded me that the reasons for these monuments and memorials are very heavy, so it's so cool to see how nature worked into the scenes could improve visitors' experiences.
Lincoln and His Lasting Impact
The memorial in the National Mall that was the most important to me was the Lincoln Memorial, not only because of how formative Lincoln was as a president for our country, but also because of the incredible history the memorial has had in that location. My best friend Anna, who was on the trip with us, and I are both in AP United States History for school this year, so we recently learned all about Abraham Lincoln, his presidency, and his lasting legacy. It was so interesting to be working our way through the National Mall and Monuments, and continually see that we were getting closer and closer to the Lincoln Memorial, and then finally make it there.
It's such a majestic construct, and to see the stone columns in person, and not just in a history textbook was truly moving. I'm not exaggerating at all when I say that my stomach turned over as I walked from the top step into Lincoln's room. Seeing his second inaugural speech engraved on the wall, with his immense figure there in front of me, I was truly in awe.
Throughout the Civil War, Lincoln worked very hard to abolish slavery and ensure equality for coming generations as much as possible, and though he obviously wasn't perfect, he achieved that goal as much as possible for that time in history. At that point in history it's hard to say that any white male was truly anti-racist, but no matter what his personal feelings about slavery were, he fought for equality for all races, much like many Transcendentalists, and that impact lasts through today.
Lincoln's figure is positioned very carefully - he has his left hand clenched on arm of his seat and his left foot underneath him, as though ready to stand up very quickly. His right hand is relaxed on the arm of the seat, and his right leg is stretched out, as though relaxed. To me, this positioning symbolized how he was happy with his dying work - ending the Civil War - and yet he knew that there was a lot of trouble yet to be had and work yet to be done.
My dad is certified as a high school history teacher, and he has taught high school United States History and World History, so I've grown up getting told all kinds of stories about history, whether it's a way that some event in the 18th century directly correlates to the news today, or why a harbor in a city we're vacationing in was significant in the founding of our country. It's pretty funny though, because my mom is rarely interested in history, but due to my dad's influence I've definitely become a history nerd. That's why when I say I was in awe seeing Lincoln for the first time - I mean it. The definition of awe is 'a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder', and that is exactly what I was feeling. I was feeling such respect for the founders of our country, fear of what they had to go through to create a working democracy, and guilt for what our current political sphere has done to that democracy that they worked so hard for.
After spending time taking pictures beside Lincoln, Anna, my brothers, and I all slid down the huge marble 'slide' on the side of the steps up to the memorial, as were many other children. It was such a fun thing to do after such a moving experience, and I would definitely add 'sliding down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial' to your life bucket list!
From Unrealistic to Reality
Yet another thing that struck me while walking the streets of DC was how many dreams and aspirations go from just that - a dream - to a reality on those streets. So many marches and campaigns take place there each year, which span so many genres and topics, such as civil rights, women's rights, and war protests. The realism of these marches is very inspiring, because it's so interesting to think about all of the people that have marched on those streets protesting or asking for rights that are now reality. For example, Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have A Dream' speech took place right there on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and, though we still have racial issues that need to be addressed, so much change has taken place since he and 250,000 others protested segregation. For the past two winters my family has attended the March for Life, marching to put a stop to abortion in America. This belief is based off of our family's religious beliefs, and it's very interesting to go to the march and observe the other people there. It has been rather frustrating for my family, and especially me personally, because we're seeing this issue that is based in our religious beliefs become so politically partisan. My mom and I both consider ourselves feminists who are pro-life, which is a very rare and specific classification. This classification does not fit with the stereotypes that people assume about us, both in personal and public spheres, which is very frustrating. It's so frustrating that just because of one of someone's beliefs, like religion, so much is assumed about the rest of their personal values, which can sometimes be so completely wrong. Through the past two years of President Trump's presidency we've experienced the annual March for Life turn from a march supporting a cause we believe in, to, in essence, a Trump rally. This has been a very tricky situation for my family due to the political stereotypes based on religion in our democracy. Nonetheless, the March for Life has been a good eye-opener in my life as to the power that people can hold when they stand together for a cause they believe in. It's so cool to visit our nation's capitol and remember all of the causes that were fought for in that area that at one time seemed unrealistic, and they now have become reality.