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A visual guide for finding creativity in D.C.

Written by in #ClassicNeenah

Kate Zaremba’s whimsical style helps take the “stuffy” out of Washington, D.C., and guides us to the city’s best art spaces in Neenah Future Classic.

What inspired you to use art spaces as a way to represent D.C.?
Since D.C. is the nation’s capital, people often think of the White House and all the historic government-related events that have happened here. But the truth is, this is a diverse community like any other, with amazing arts organizations and creative spaces worth knowing about and supporting.

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Describe the process of creating this piece. How did you approach the concept phase?
First, I made a list of my favorite art spaces, then reached out to all of my friends for their lists to compare and create an arts consensus of sorts. This turned out to be a brilliant idea, because I had never heard of Art Enables, an incredible organization that supports artists with disabilities. I am so excited about what this group is doing, and I wouldn’t have known about it if it weren’t for this project.


Developing the icons was the next step. First, I sketched out my initial ideas for each place. I researched the collections, the programs offered, and histories of the organizations to help inspire a visual representation. I wanted the illustrations to be simple and fun, so I went through several iterations. Often I would cut the ideas out of paper, rather than just creating a line drawing of them. I really love creating images in this way, because there is something that happens when you change your tool for drawing. The final shape is very different and sometimes more interesting. Not all of the icons were developed with paper cutouts, but it is a process that can easily simplify shapes and ideas for me.

What was the last great art experience you had in your city, and where did you have it?
I saw one of my favorite artists, Timo Andres, play at The Phillips Collection for the Sunday Concerts Series.


“At the Hub of Things” in the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

If you could transplant any local piece of art into your personal space, which would it be, and why?
I might have to move to a bigger place, but I would love to have the Anish Kapoor sculpture titled “At the hub of things,” shown in my final piece as #11. It’s a simple concave form that is the most beautiful deep blue color I have ever seen. The color literally vibrates off of the surface and all I want to do is touch it or maybe sit inside it! It always makes me think of how we actually see color in the first place: that we are seeing the reflection of wavelengths that appear to us as deep blue. I love how art can take my mind to so many different and interesting places.


A pair of chairs at The Phillips Collection.

Describe your perfect “24 hours in D.C.” itinerary.
This would probably be a Sunday with my husband. We would grab a coffee and croissant from The Wydown on 14th Street and then head to the early movie at E Street theater. After that, we’d have lunch at Oyamel before heading over to the Hirshhorn or National Gallery of Art for a stroll through the exhibitions. Heading back to our neighborhood, we might have a quick drink at Dodge City on U Street and then head up to Room 11 in Columbia Heights for dinner or do take-out at Pho 14 and head back home to chill out.

Paper cut-out flowers on a Georgetown street.

Aside from the art scene, what are your favorite elements of your city?
D.C. is a really nice-looking place with some wonderful architecture and quite a lot of trees in comparison to other major cities. I appreciate the open space and the unique little neighborhoods sprinkled throughout. There aren’t any skyscrapers here, which is kind of fantastic. I ride my bike everywhere and it’s been the perfect way to get around. It’s allowed me to see parts of the city I wouldn’t have had a reason to be in otherwise. I grew up in the Midwest and most of the cities there are not bike-able, so that is a massive perk to living here.

Describe the creative scene there. What do you love about it? What would you change, if you could?
The arts are an integral part to any great city. It builds bridges between cultures; it brings people together no matter their ethnicity, religion or age; and it ensures that young people are exposed to creative thinking. I chose to highlight the creative scene in D.C. because there are so many wonderful places putting on great performances, public art programs, and supporting artists, yet getting very little support themselves. I love that there are so many places to see and experience great art, but I wish that these organizations were working together to promote, share, and support the greater social initiative and responsibility that the arts has to a community.

KZ Headshot 2015
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