Conversation About Social Justice: Part 2
Our first round of presenting a “Conversation About Social Justice” drew so much response from our Fellows, that we had to follow it up with a second. This project began with an invitation to Fellows from Madam Chairman of the MacDowell Board Nell Painter (16, 19). In that invitation, Painter noted that while Fellows have “long been making the art of redress, long before this current round of bloody injustice,” the social and political environment called out for us to make a space to present art made in protest of previous or current injustices. Our plan, during this time of social distancing, has always been to make some space available so that the exchange of ideas and discussion around social justice matters can continue through art.
Even as we have welcomed a small cohort of artists back to our Peterborough home, we anticipate this conversation to continue. Let this collection of visual, video, musical, architectural, interdisciplinary, sound, and written work act as a catalyst to more conversation and inspiration.
As ever, this invitation to take part is made with the understanding that it may seem to impose yet another task on artists who may be in the streets or emotionally drained. This understanding extends particularly but not exclusively to Black and Indigenous Fellows of Color, and to Fellow artists who have suffered personal losses.
We hope you enjoy what you find in these pages.
Chair nr 38
Chair nr 38 is a leatherette executive’s office chair with a footstool and massage function. It was developed using “performing furniture” to understand and undermine objectification. This is the first standing piece I made with a "face."
The foot of the swivel chair, like a car’s steering wheel, put me in mind of someone driving or steering their own identity because in this sculpture it serves as a face. The central part of this face has a barrel that reminded me of a gun and this, in turn, got me thinking about shooting identity, or which identities are more vulnerable than others.
I view this work as a layered metaphor for finding peace with who you are and attempting to secure and take control of your identity by wresting the steering wheel from a path of objectification.
This is also my first sculpture with an audible "voice." The massage function is concealed in the chest and has been altered in such a way as to make audible up to 14 different beats. These beats resemble a range of sounds from gunfire to a slow (or rapid) heartbeat. Both sounds reverberate from the chest.
Whilst it was not a conscious decision, I soon realized that drive-by shootings of Black people in the U.S. are being processed in this piece. The footstool that forms the hood of the figure has the text "footstool do not sit here" written on it. As "sitting" on Black individuals has resulted in some of the most shocking examples of recent police brutality. The figure is androgynous as victims are male, female, and trans. Some of the noises made are loud but many are low-level background noises that you really only notice when they stop. The figure hovers between a chair or thing, and then figure, depending on your viewing angle.
In order to end the conflict, a strategy could be to try to understand the other party (weaponized police and citizens that insist on shooting unarmed Black individuals) as fully as possible.
What is it that people see when they see a "black figure" and shoot? Could it be this animal, object, or figure with a loaded face?
A work just featuring a "loaded face" from this body of work was featured in contemporary and magazine.
Abolitionists in a Flood
Honor Indian Treaties
same / cloth
same / cloth
Shin Yu Pai (03, 04, 11) "same / cloth" is an embroidered poem on the subject of a hate crime that took place outside of Seattle in 2016.read the poem
slipstream (by the light of the moon),
Little Man, Little Man (book trailer)
A Weaving (reading)
Latin for New World Order
The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter (excerpt)
Kia Corthron (11, 12, 15, 17, 19) submitted an excerpt of her novel, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter, which won the 2016 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize.Read the excerpt
Elizabeth Graver (94, 09, 12) submits a brief essay she wrote in 2016 (published in Tablet), as she was canvassing in advance of the 2016 election.read the essay
Did it Ever Occur to You that Maybe You're Falling in Love
Poet Ailish Hopper (13) offers the poem "Did it Ever Occur to You that Maybe You're Falling in Love," which was published by POETRY magazine in 2016, and was featured in a Bill Moyers' "civic poetry" episode and appears in the just-released anthology of writing by women climate leaders, All We Can Save.read the poem
Jackhammering Limestone and Too Strong
Poet Erika Meitner (16) presents "Jackhammering Limestone" (written at MacDowell) and "Too Strong," poems from her book Holy Moly Carry Me (BOA Editions, 2018) that deal with racial injustice.Read the poems
Rashaan A. Meneses (13) submits an essay originally published in Seventh Wave Magazine.read the essay
Bronzeville Beach and Supper Club
Fiction writer Michael Scott Moore (19) offers two linked short stories about racism in a fictional town, based on true stories about Miles Davis and Nick Gabaldón. Gabaldón is credited as being the first documented Black (and Latino) surfer in the United States.read the stories
How Many Crows Does it Take to Make a Murder
Poet Tracie Morris (15) submitted a poem, "How Many Crows Does it Take to Make a Murder," after Duriel E. Harris’ "He Who Fights With Monsters."Read the poem
Poet Mihaela Moscaliuc (19) sent in a few poems, the first, "Empathy test," was written soon after the murder of George Floyd. The others address other types of social injustice.read the poems
Interdisciplinary artist Bolaji Odofin (17) sent in a brief but powerful piece of short fiction called "Ungodly."read the story
R: An Aftermath
Jeneva Burroughs Stone (12) sent us an essay on sexual assault entitled "R: An Aftermath" that has recently been published in the New England Review.read the essay