Now Playing

Next Act

Joseph Hale keeps an eye on art’s horizon.

Jacket by Billy Reid, Georgetown; Shirt by Top Shop, Nordstrom, Fashion Centre at Pentagon City; Pants by Saks Fifth Avenue, Tysons Galleria

One of the few concessions Joseph Hale makes to the past is a Swiss army knife. The tool’s quirky utility is a sidekick when he creates painterly sculptures with found images in his downtown studio. But as director of college exhibitions for the Corcoran College of Art + Design, Hale resides in art’s future. His biggest event of the year—Next at the Corcoran (April 10-May 18)—showcases the work of 150 graduate and undergraduate students of the prestigious school.

Next is a litmus test for what’s going on in DC and the world,” says Hale. “The art reflects what this generation is thinking about, and you can tell a great deal about where we’re headed culturally and politically.” Hale is impressed with the slate of students whose work graces this year’s show, especially photographer Tracy Eustaquio, sculptor James Cole and video artist Joey Alzamora.

After the controversial winter the Corcoran had—the agreement with the National Gallery of Art to acquire the Corcoran’s extensive collection, and with George Washington University to assume responsibility for its college of art—spring around 17th Street is as welcome as a fresh canvas. Young artists will still have a major voice in the city via the new Corcoran Contemporary, National Gallery of Art. “These artists instinctively know where we’re heading as a society, and it’s our job to give them a voice,” Hale says. “Next is poetic: Museums often look back, but this show is very much about looking forward. No one can argue with this premise. It’s beautiful.”

Mel Chin, the six-plumed bird of paradise, water on Mars
The “What type of X are you?” tests, big data, euphemisms