Photograph the Cherry Bounce Show
About the Cherry Bounce Show
In the American Republic few things are more universal than our collective interest in and disdain for democratic politics. Whether we're imagining our ancestors reading broadside newspaper articles to one another on the steps of their local post offices or our peers today engaging collective, almost stream of conscience debates through the various mediums of the internet age, we are an intensively political people, not merely among our elites and ivory-tower intellectuals, but almost universally. Our culture is that of democratic-republicanism, with its equal shares of beauty and muck.
When something is this deeply embedded into a people's culture it will pervade its arts almost universally. My ancestors in Europe built cathedrals and wrote music and decorated mosaics that touched upon religious themes - Americans do this too, of course, but in equal (or greater) measure we build monuments and write tomes and compose operas on questions political.
Of course each of the many nations that make up the greater American nation does this in their own way and my folk, the Appalachians, no less than the others. That is part of the motivation for this show - to illustrate how Appalachians - modern Appalachians - express their political nature artistically.
We've done this in a simple way - we've gathered together great works of political art from the history of American democracy - 1788 to 2012 - and asked artists to react to them. End. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. I have no idea what they're going to paint, draw, sculpt, print, or record. But it is wonderful.
Why call it the Cherry Bounce Show?
You're asking yourself now, why name a show about political art Cherry Bounce? If you'll humor me, I'd like to explain through a bit of a narrative.
Once upon a time, when America was younger and democracy was still truly intoxicating, Americans loved elections. Sure, they were nasty and vicious and half the time corrupt. But they were ours, our government, our unique way of living - and by god, we loved them, even if we decried the individuals running sometimes. There are still hints of that in our culture, but nothing like the old days. In the old days Election Day was our greatest national celebration - before there were national holidays there was Election Day, the day we voted and drank and threw parties and ate too much and danced and stood rapt as votes were counted and argued and fought and basically were enraptured at our own independence - both as a nation and as so many states, and indeed, as millions of individuals.
Over time we've lost much of this joy. The happiness of the election is a memory more than it is a reality - we lament the dawn of election season, huge numbers of our people refuse to participate, and few of us invest the time to be truly educated about issues political, economic, or social. We work too much. We play too hard. We forget we are citizens, that the absurdity that is our government is, indeed, ours, and if we learn to love it again, there is a real chance that the Union will respond in kind.
We're cynics for a reason of course - the sins of our government and the elites who run it, not to mention the willfully ignorant who often give those elites their jobs, are many. I could list our national sins but we all know them - we, as a people, have amazing ideals. We simply haven't always lived up to them. If we learn to treasure those ideals, and to love our government, though in a critical way - 400 million parents, trying to correct a collective brat, perhaps? - we are more likely to do so. The heroes of our nation weren't people who didn't believe in it, but were people who believed in it so much that they thought, no, knew, it could be better than it was - and so they led us, fought for us, treasured politics for us.
That is what Election Day should be - unparalleled joy at our ability to care and actually do something, to be fully human, to have a role in shaping our own political destiny, a day to joyfully be American not merely as an observer but as a participant.
So, why Cherry Bounce? Because I'm Appalachian, and this is a show of Appalachian artists and once upon a time, when Americans still loved elections, when they celebrated them, Appalachian folk would play music and drink and laugh and sing and dance and eat. We would exude joy, save some of our finest recipes for this incredibly special times. One of those was a special kind of whiskey called cherry bounce - a glorious, delicious cordial of moonshine and sugar and cherries that takes ages and patience to make well, but when done constitutes a smooth and wonderful punch that helped hillbilly folk dance and laugh and debate easier, even when their candidates and parties lost the race. Cherry bounce was the drink of elections in many parts of the mountains, a whiskey for special occasions for a people who once nearly rebelled against the Union over their right to make and sell whiskey in the nation's dawn.
That is what I want this show to be: a fine liquor, something that adds joy to a proceeding that is serious but also beautiful, something to get my fellow folk talking, debating, reading again, to make elections an object of communion, the thing to talk about at the table, not the thing to avoid.
Photography and this GoFundMe Campaign
First, in order to include these images on our website/annal of the show ( http://www.cherrybounceshow.com) in order to remain a kernel around which to continue outreach and education using the show and its work (currently examples of the artists' work are on the site, but not the actual pieces included in the museum).
Second, in order to make sure that images of this work is preserved in the archives of the WKMA and any other interested outlet permanently, guaranteeing the work remains a resource for artists, historians, and political scholars.
Third, we are currently working on a book based on the show and associated lectures, panels, and paper presentations - the core of which, naturally and properly, would be the work of the participating artists.
This is important because literally thousands of hours of work lay behind the creation of this show, these pieces of art, and intellectual engagement of the community they have taken part in - work that deserves to be preserved and maintained as part of our general artistic heritage and as part of our Appalachian heritage more specifically.
It is also important because, while we had hoped funds would be available for in-house funding of the photography, the current budgetary circumstances of the WKMA (and Virginian arts institutions in general) have led us to need outside funding - I would gladly pay for this out of pocket were that financially viable but, unfortunately, it is not. That is why I am coming forward to ask for whatever support you can provide.
Ideally we would like this project fully funded by the 17th of January, 2017, since that is the planned day for the work to be photographed - any cost shortfund will come out of my own pocket till we have finished funding the venture.
Again, I thank you for your consideration, your time, your effort, and your contributions. You are helping to make sure that the original work of over 50 artists remains a cogent artistic, political, and historical collection for years to come.
Eric Drummond Smith