WALTER REED DREAMS
PART OF A CITY-WIDE INITIATIVE CALLED “CROSSING THE STREET,” WHICH PROMOTES COMMUNITY-BUILDING THROUGH CREATIVE PLACEMAKING IN NEIGHBORHOODS THAT ARE EXPERIENCING RAPID DEMOGRAPHIC AND SOCIAL CHANGE
In 1904, Major William C. Borden envisioned a complex that would combine medical treatment, research, and education together-- the framework for the future Walter Reed Army Medical Center. It was called “Borden’s Dream” by a doubtful congressman, and the ambitious moniker remained. Here we are again, a century later facing another changed space with an innovative future. In the 100-year history of the hospital, we can imagine that there were countless memories and characters: moments of reflection and interaction, thoughts about mortality, duty, and faith, nearby residents who grew to love this anchor in their community. In the end, those who came before us have no way of knowing if we’ll remember them—their stories, their passions, the intricacies of their lives. It’s an act of faith that we must honor.
The stories, dreams, and insights captured from residents of Ward 4 were highlighted by artistic experiences that invited further community participation and moments for reflection. CulturalDC hosted multiple events in Ward 4 leading up to a culminating community celebration at Walter Reed called Walter Reed Dreams Block Party on April 29, 2017.
In celebrating Walter Reed’s past, present, and future, our first and most important job was to listen; to residents’ stories about the way things were and to hone in on the love, wonder, and mystery the Walter Reed campus evokes as Ward 4 considers the direction of the site’s development for an intergenerational neighborhood.
We invited all of the District to experience the strength of Walter Reed’s legacy through the community’s collective input, as it is translated by Ward 4 artists, musicians, and creatives. The community was invited to marvel at the spectacle of the site’s history, their neighbor’s stories, and the coming transformation of Walter Reed.
PUBLIC ART PROJECTS
VOICES OF WARD 4
Walter Reed has been a place of healing, a refuge for those that have served this country and their families. It has also been an important part of Ward 4, both as a place of employment and a historic part of the community. For this project, Cogan collected stories from neighborhood residents who have lived and worked in and around Walter Reed to help tell the collective story of its impact on the local community. The final film was projected during the Walter Reed Dreams Block Party.
DEIRDRE DARDEN & ALIANA GRACE BAILEY
Building upon the use of ribbons as a symbol of honor and support throughout the branches of the Military, curator Deirdre Darden and multi-media artist Aliana Grace Bailey, collaborated to collect and document the reflections and memories of local staffers, veterans, and neighbors who hold special connections with Walter Reed. Their words were then screen-printed onto handmade ribbons that will flank the main gate. These ribbons will serve as an emblem of WRAMC's past and the community's hope for its future.
WALTER REED DREAMS: SHARED STORIES
True stories about Walter Reed from residents and former employees on the campus. This project collected stories that were used in multiple public art projects that occurred as part of Walter Reed Dreams Block Party
TO COUNT SO HIGH
A year-long light installation to honor each of the nearly two million Purple Heart recipients over the last century. The lights directly outside of the main gate to Walter Reed were transformed through a site specific algorithm to gently blink a soft purple light 1.9 million times over the course of a year, with each light signaling the sacrifice a US Armed Service member has made to our country.
An interactive display designed to allow community members to create their own artwork using colored yarn that represents what they want to see at the new Walter Reed. The design of the display was inspired by Washington Color School artist, Alma Thomas, who was a Howard University graduate and long-time Washington DC resident. Her vibrant color palette and inspirational imagery helped show a bright and forward-thinking vision for Walter Reed.
WALTER REED DREAMS was supported by
District of Columbia Office of Planning, The Kresge Foundation, Urban Atlantic, Hines, Triden and French Thomas Creative
Ward 4 Arts, Humanities, and Culture Advisory Committee; Councilman Todd’s Office; Shepherd Park Neighborhood Library; Georgia Avenue BID; Black Student Fund; Washington International School; DC Preservation League; Ethiopian Community Center; East Rock Creek Village and Black Artists of DC