'By the People' Festival features art across D.C.

'By the People' Festival features art across D.C. (ABC7)

This weekend, an arts festival takes over Washington called By The People. Festival organizers hope it will rival SXSW in Austin or the Aspen Ideas Festival.

Exhibits are set up and performances are scheduled in every D.C. quadrant.

At Washington National Cathedral, visitors might be surprised an out-of-the-blue paint job – with blue floral-like designs covering the cathedral’s front steps.

It's not permanent. It is one of dozens of art installations now on display.

“As we were planning out the festival, we were really thinking it was time for DC to have its own SXSW or Aspen Ideas Festival," festival organizer Nicole Dowz said.

The festival features a wide range of local and international artists, different art forms, performances speakers and discussions at locations across the District. These locations include the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building, Union Market and down in the crypt of the cathedral.

Stephen Hayes' mixed media sculptures explore black identity, pairing busts of real African American men with the voices of black youth. All of them are Washingtonians.

“I'm allowing these kids to talk about what they're going through as they grow up,” Hayes said.

D.C.-based filmmaker Kristin Adair will premiere her documentary "Becoming Free."

“My work is about mass incarceration and the experience of young people who have been locked up,” Adair said.

Meanwhile, "Mind The Heart"promotes mindfulness, encouraging individuals to stick a red yarn heart on a public place they love. They are then encouraged to send in a photo of the mounted sticker.

The Israeli artists behind the project have traveled the world. So far, they said they have collected a thousand heart images.

“What we're really trying to show is that every single place around us has significance to someone at some point,” artist Roie Avidan said. “So we should walk around with open eyes and open hearts and respect our surroundings.”

The festival continues through Sunday.


Performance artwork, "Je Tisse Mon Histoire" featured by Chloe Bensahel" (from 0:33-0:38 in the video). For more, visit

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