The art installation that inspired Updraft America was on exhibition in Washington, DC, at American University’s Katzen Museum from 6 September – 23 October 2016.
Here is the backstory:
In August, 2015, the United States Congress recessed under the threatening cloud of another government shutdown. Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg, a Washington, DC sculptor who had previously worked on Capitol Hill, decided to use art to protest the political gridlock–and gamesmanship–of Congress. Words simply inflate frustration and underline the circularity of the complex problem, so art, she thought, might inspire change.
She purchased a year’s subscription to The Congressional Record, the official transcript of the United States Congress. From August 1st, 2015 through August 1st, 2016, she vowed to fold every page into a paper airplane. When people heard of her project, they asked to help fold.
Folders have spanned ideologies and economics, ages and ethnicities. They include 18-year-olds and 80-year-olds. Democrats, Republicans, Independents and the “partied out” folded. Unemployed and world-class philanthropists folded. Teachers, students, a farmer and a counter-terrorism analyst folded. Stay-at-home moms and psychologists, retirees and cancer survivors folded. And lots of millennials folded.
Why? Because they want to have a voice. And, thus, an idea formed: this art installation truly should be a social movement to give reasonable people voice and visibility.
Formation of the All-Volunteer Updraft Team
In December, 2015, a world-renowned retina surgeon, Randall Wong (Independent), agreed to create a website for Updraft America. His love of technology and his skill at web optimization brought him to the team. An IT millennial from Texas, Steele Schauer (Republican), agreed to help with social media. And photographer Felicia Evans (Republican) signed on to contribute visual and installation support.
Then, Washington, DC intellectual property lawyer, Mark Ungerman, agreed to handle trademarking of a logo. Now, we needed a logo. Just before the holidays, graphic designer, Susan Cole (Democrat) signed on to create a visual representation of Updraft America which could be used both a sign of protest and an instrument of affiliation. The logo for Updraft America could be a means of identifying like-minded people who seek common ground solutions in hopes of moving America forward, something critical in creating a sense of community…
Herein, you are experiencing the result of their talents and of their graciousness in contributing more time, energy and skill than they could ever have guessed…as the creators of Updraft America.
Many more fabulously talented and dedicated people signed on in the months that followed…check out the Team page for their stories.