Enjoy Light Fare, Beverages, Networking and
a private viewing of
THIS SMITHSONIAN TRAVELING EXHIBIT EXPLORES THE
NEARLY 250-YEAR-OLD AMERICAN EXPERIMENT WITH
GOVERNMENT OF, BY, AND FOR THE PEOPLE.
ABOUT VOICES & VOTES
When American revolutionaries waged a war for independence they took a leap of faith that sent ripple effects across generations. They embraced a radical idea of establishing a government that entrusted the power of the nation not in a monarchy, but in its citizens. That great leap sparked questions that continue to impact Americans:
• Who has the right to vote?
• What are the freedoms and responsibilities of citizens
• Whose voices will be heard?
• How do you participate as a citizen?
Voices and Votes: Democracy in America will be a springboard for discussions about those very questions and how they are reflected in local stories.
Voices and Votes is based on a major exhibition currently on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History called American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith. Content development for Voices and Votes was led by Harry Rubenstein, Curator Emeritus in the Division of Political History at the National Museum of American History. Voices and Votes has many dynamic features: historical and contemporary photos; educational and archival video; engaging multimedia interactives with short games and additional footage, photos, and information; and historical objects like campaign souvenirs, voter memorabilia, and protest material.
Our democracy demands action, reaction, vision, and revision as we continue to question how to form “a more perfect union.” From the revolution and suffrage, to civil rights and casting ballots, everyone in every community is part of this ever-evolving story – the story of democracy in America.
Voices and Votes has been made possible at Brookdale Community College and the Monmouth Museum by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.
Voices and Votes is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and the Federation of State Humanities Councils. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.
In Monmouth Museum's Nilson Gallery
Individuals like to think about themselves as conspicuously unique personalities. Take a closer look however and it’s pretty clear that we are deeply social animals, biologically programmed for social interaction and territorial tribal behavior.
For people watchers and students of human conduct, recent social and political unrest combined with a dangerous global pandemic have posited serious questions about the long-term effects of isolation and lack of access to traditional social relationships.
The pandemic with all its restrictions seems to have struck at a fragile time of unprecedented divisiveness and polarized politics that have complicated participation in our basic rights of citizenship, which include voting rights and civil rights along with our constitutional right to peaceful public assembly. Yet, the urge to express ourselves as socially oriented tribal animals persists.
In spite of, or perhaps in reaction to all this extraordinary mayhem, Kathleen Beausoleil has been in her studio exploring silver linings of opportunity and reflecting on the various ways we gather to express our rights as citizens. She has been observing and learning about where we draw lines in the sand of our moral and ethical responsibilities to each other and to country. By documenting crucial moments of notable protest over the past several years, her works offer glimpses into some of the new ways we struggle to affect positive change.
So, what are the long-term repercussions of pandemic isolation in what seems like an ever intensifying political, cultural, and racially polarized American landscape? How will it affect the ways we interact with one and other in the future? How will it impact our right to free speech and the way we exercise our right to peaceful assembly?
In an attempt to reconcile the space between us, Beausoleil’s new works are visual meditations on these puzzles and challenge us to reflect on our own place in the answers to these questions.
In the artist’s own words, “It’s my experience, that as much as people need their privacy, they need other people feel accepted and fulfilled. They also need other people to project their grievances and rally around a common enemy. As social animals, we tend to find joy and meaning in the sense of belonging to something larger than ourselves. We are reassured and informed by the echoes of our personal scruples in the voice of our larger tribal identities.”