Hirshhorn’s ARTLAB Will Keep Go-Go Crankin’ All Summer With “Respect Her Crank!”

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ARTLAB, the radically inclusive digital studio for teens at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, will partner with the women-centric creative consulting agency GIRLAAA, the LGBTQ space activators Makers Lab and the STEAM education program GENESIS to present “Respect Her Crank!,” a multifaceted online teen internship and virtual public program series aimed at celebrating the history of women in go-go. 

In a four-week intensive internship, teens will produce an album of popular songs remixed into go-go hits, design 3D exhibition spaces and create a short film documenting the stories of women pioneers in the genre. The music, 3D design and film production internship will be accompanied by a sequence of engaging critical discussions and intimate performances beginning July 31. The series will culminate in a two-hour virtual exhibition Saturday, Aug. 22, showcasing the voices and vision of the past and future of women, girls and femmes in go-go.

Go-go was born in Washington, D.C., in the 1960s. The genre’s signature medley of percussion, melodic vocals and call-and-response engagement has catapulted the city’s culture to international acclaim. In recent years, as native Black Washingtonians confront the detrimental effects of rapid gentrification and police brutality, go-go has become the soundtrack of Black joy and resistance. Local organizers, protestors and allies have grabbed their mic, drums, guitars and bodies to crank to the go-go beat on Black Lives Matter Plaza to ensure the centrality of Black culture and people to Washington history.

“Respect Her Crank!” is inspired by a question asked poignantly by ARTLAB teen Shania, 18, despite important local efforts to preserve go-go history: “Are there any girl go-go bands?” The answer is yes. Black women play a foundational role in the history and legacy of go-go, as singers, instrumentalists, managers and organizers. Yet, the experiences of women in the genre are largely overlooked. “Respect Her Crank!” will build on the legacy of influential musicians, DJs and managers who participated in ARTLAB’s “Respect Her Crank!” advisory board, including Michelle Blackwell, Yendy Brown, Cherie “Sweet Cherie” Mitchell-Agurs, Shante M. Moore and Kacey Williams.

Respect Her Crank! Hour
Friday, July 31, and Friday, Aug. 21; 5–6 p.m. EDT
Free, tune in on Instagram Live

Where It Began
Friday, July 31; 6–7 p.m. EDT
Free, registration required

Go-Go Unplugged ft. Kacey of Black Alley
Wednesday, Aug. 5; 6–7 p.m. EDT
Free, registration required

The Politics of Go-Go
Friday, Aug. 7;  6–7 p.m. EDT
Free, registration required

Go-Go Unplugged ft. Shante Moore and Michelle Blackwell
Wednesday, Aug. 12; 6–7 p.m. EDT
Free, registration required

Frontwomen of Go-Go
Friday, Aug. 14; 6–7 p.m. EDT
Free, registration required

Go-Go Unplugged ft. Sweet Cherie of Be’la Dona
Wednesday, Aug. 19; 6–7 p.m. EDT
Free, registration required

Lookin’ Like the Future of Go-Go
Friday, Aug. 21; 6–7 p.m. EDT
Free, registration required

Respect Her Crank!: A Go-Go Herstory Showcase
Saturday, Aug. 22; 4–6 p.m. EDT
Free, registration information to come

This summer-long program would not be possible without ARTLAB’s partners, local artists and the support of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative

About ARTLAB

ARTLAB is a radically inclusive digital art studio for teens 13 to 19 years old. It opened in 2011 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden to provide local youth free access to the latest technology, a wide range of art materials and one-on-one mentorship from professional artists to support their creative learning. With a variety of special programs and resources, ARTLAB cultivates community and fosters the next generation of innovators. For more information, visit hirshhorn.si.edu/explore/about-artlab. Find us on social @ARTLAB

About the Hirshhorn 

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the national museum of modern and contemporary art and a leading voice for 21st-century art and culture. Part of the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn is located prominently on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Its holdings encompass one of the most important collections of postwar American and European art in the world. The Hirshhorn presents diverse exhibitions and offers an array of public programs on the art of our time—free to all. For more information, visit hirshhorn.si.edu. Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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