What makes a neighborhood a neighborhood? To us it’s the people who live, work, play, and operate businesses within its streets. It’s their voices that shape the community and their taxes that go into neighborhood improvements, and their dollars that flow in an out of the local economy.

What happens when a neighborhood is faced with sudden change? From the chaos of the DC riots, to a time of renaissance and rebirth, and now a period of rapid urban development – we take a look at what residents of the Washington, DC neighborhood, Shaw are faced with today.

Do long-time residents recognize their surroundings? Can new and longstanding businesses exist side-by-side?  Do affordable housing options still exist? Is history and culture being erased? During our time of connecting with the Shaw community, these questions surfaced and greatly influenced the projects and programs we have curated.

What’s Going On: Voices of Shaw is a reflection of the Shaw community today with an array of programming that highlights its current culture with a nod to its rich history. Curated projects by invited artists coupled with programs driven by the community dot the course of this 9-day event in Shaw. Prepare to be surprised by art in the streets with a photographic mural by Jared Soares, performance art by Tsedaye Makonnen, illuminated street activations by Thick Air Studios, and a treasure hunt of sound performed in Blagden Alley by the Bohemian Caverns Orchestra.

Throughout the week, you can also partake in workshops, walking tours, a roving sketching party, an intimate salon at a resident’s home, live music, food tours, and more. These programs were derived from an open call to the community this summer.

What’s Going On: Voices of Shaw is a project funded by the DC Office of Planning and the Kresge Foundation as part of the Crossing the Street initiative which aims to foster connections between older and newer residents of DC’s rapidly developing neighborhoods across all 8 wards of the city.

We’re grateful for their support of this project, along with our community stakeholders and partners. And whether you are a Shaw resident or visitor, we hope you enjoy discovering the people, places, and nuances that make Shaw what it today!

-Kristina Bilonick Royer & Deirdre Ehlen MacWilliams, co-curators

Kristina Bilonick Royer
Kristina is an artist and entrepreneur with a passion for small business development and community building. Bilonick was born and raised in the DC and has run arts programming at a number of organizations including DC Arts Studios and Washington Project for the ArtsIn 2010 Kristina founded Pleasant Plains Workshop – a community-focused arts space that supports emerging artists with exhibitions, classes, and affordable studio space. As an artist, she has exhibited her work at local venues including Transformer, Arlington Arts Center, Gallaudet University, and the American University Museum. Recently, she combined her experience operating businesses in DC with her interest in Real Estate and Development, and now also works in commercial real estate and community engagement with the Menkiti Group Real Estate Team.

Deirdre Ehlen MacWilliams
Deirdre serves as public art project manager for Arlington’s nationally-renowned Public Art program where she develops and manages County-initiated projects and advises on various public art and design enhancement requests. Prior to joining Arlington, Deirdre worked as the public art coordinator for the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) and for Weitzman Studios in Brentwood, MD. Deirdre also works independently on creative projects and initiatives.  In 2015, she was a project manager for Finding a Line, working with local artist and skateboarder Ben Ashworth and the Kennedy Center, the curator for Georgetown GLOW Winter public art exhibition, the curator for Hickok Cole’s Art Night and curator and project manager for four new sculptures by Foon Sham located within Golden Triangle. In 2014, Deirdre was the producer for DCCAH’s temporary public art program 5×5 and the curator for the Foggy Bottom Sculpture Biennial.  She also directs Mid City Artists, a group of professional artists who have come together for the purpose of promoting their art and the mid-city section of DC.