Actually, there are plenty of monuments depicted in Capitol Hill: Beyond the Monuments, a book of photographs taken on the Hill by (mostly) Hill residents. Indeed, there’s a monumental image on the cover: an oversize marble angel at Union Station striving for the sky. In Elisabeth Wackman’s picture, however, the stone creature is humanized by contrast with one of flesh, a little boy imitating the angel’s posture. That’s the sort of everyday humanity that exemplifies Beyond the Monuments at its best. This collection of black-and-white photos by 42 photogshigh-school students taking their first photographic steps, professionals who’ve been shooting on the Hill for decades, and many people who fall between those two polesincludes some traditional shots of the Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Folger Library, even the uninspiring Madison Building of the Library of Congress. Those are fine, but the more interesting images are of ordinary street scenes, the multifarious bustle of Eastern Market, horses stabled under the Southeast Freeway, dog-walkers, churches, and corner stores.
These are not provocative pictures. Most of the people in them are smiling, the images of protesters and panhandlers are unsurprising, and cute kids abound. Still, they offer a charming view of the sort of diverse, human-scale neighborhood that’s been largely supplanted by the neo-medieval schemes of the suburbsand that is frequently overshadowed by those damn monuments. The book is published by the Capitol Hill Art League, and its proceeds benefit students at the associated Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. A selection of photos for the book is also available in a 1996 calendar. For more information, contact the Capitol Hill Art League at (202) 547-6839.Mark Jenkins