Imagine it is 1989. The internet is barely known, email is a baffling idea, and the World Wide Web hasn’t been invented yet. But the censorship wars are raging, the AIDS crisis is hitting artists hard, and debates about public support for the arts are fiery. Artists and others in the arts need to connect as a community across the country. Arts Wire was created to meet that challenge.
Founded by Alum in Residence Anne Focke in 1989, Arts Wire was an early national online network. Over the past year, it has been brought out of storage and into the light by Anne and a team of student interns – Karen Beech, Jessica Capó, Abby Cloutier, Zach Heinemeyer, and Lizzie Trelawny-Vernon. They began by inventorying file boxes full of plans, memos, screen print-outs, clippings, and handwritten notes.
Before long, they began talking together and with people across the country to learn more. They’ve learned how something new can be created and what the early days of the “information superhighway” were like – ascii art, early emojis, and undecipherable code. They’ve found things that make them laugh and things that completely puzzle them. They’ve also found sobering news of events in Arts Wire’s times, discovered what can happen when art and politics mix, and learned how history loops forward into the present.
Some of what they’ve found will be shared at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery – on its walls, in zine giveaways, and in conversations and readings from the files.
6:30-9 pm, Thursday, June 22: exhibition opening, conversation, and potluck reception
11 am-5 pm, Friday, June 23: exhibition open to the public
1-5 pm, Saturday, June 24: exhibition open, with readings, conversation, and other surprises. Schedule to be announced.