Internet Killed the Museum Star? Digital Images at Hill Center

Maury students’ digital images in the style of @paperboyo.

“Will the internet ever replace the Museum?” That is a question considered by students in Maury Elementary School’s third through fifth grades. Many emerging artists are employing social media to gain exposure for their work, rather than waiting for an opportunity to display their work in a museum or gallery. Apps like Instagram have made it easy for artists to attract followers. Many museums have digitized works in their collections, making them available online anywhere in the world, any time of day or night. Art lovers can avoid the expense and inconvenience of travel to a museum.

But is something lost when not experiencing a work of art in person? The students had a lot to say on the subject.

“The internet allows you to zoom in and see details you may never notice in person” was countered by, “Yeah, but not everyone has a phone or a computer at home, so what about them?”

And from others: “Museums are special.” “You go with family or on trips. It’s a special occasion.” “Think of all of the history inside a museum. The things chosen to go inside have lasted for many years.”

This conversation provided a transition to the study of Rich McCor, or @paperboyo, an artist working in the medium of digital photography. He is famous for using black card stock and his camera to produce clever transformations of well-known landmarks from around the world.

The photographs are meant to be enjoyed by a mass internet audience, quickly and casually. McCor encourages his viewers to mimic his style, and he collaborated with Lonely Planet Kids to create a how-to video, inviting children to see their environment in a new way.

StudioMaury kids took advantage of digital cameras donated by DC Public Schools to create photographs of their own paper cutouts, staged in the Maury art studio. The students were totally engaged by the novelty of the assignment and created the series of witty works now on display in the Hill Center Young Artist Gallery.

Camille explained, “We have never done anything like photography before. We learned a lot about positive and negative space and what you can do with it.”

Mateo said, “I learned you could make illusions by cutting the paper in a way that fits with the object you are putting it with.”

Their art teacher, Lauren Bomba, invites you to visit to “enjoy the latest internet sensations.” Experience the show in person at the Young Artists Gallery at Hill Center, and then ask yourself, “Is this work best consumed online or in person?”

The answer may be: both.

Hill Center is located at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. The Young Artists Gallery is on the ground floor, east of the main staircase. The show will hang through the end of October.