Movers and Shakers Interactive Gallery Exhibition
— in conjunction with Black Artists in America: From the Great Depression to Civil Rights Exhibition
Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, TN
In the summer of 2021, I planned an interactive exhibition called Movers and Shakers to be paired with the exhibition Black Artists in America: From the Great Depression to Civil Rights. In the fall/ winter it was actualized. Within the main exhibition, music and dance had a strong theme across multiple painters exhibited. Drawing from these works as inspiration, I completed research to draw a cohesive thread between them. The interactive exhibition included stations of participation, each with their own reproductions of works referenced. Having similar ties to my own practice, I was able to use that to find how one can physically interact with the concepts at play.
Reproduced works from Black Artists in America used in the interactive exhibition:
Bronzeville at Night, Archibald John Motley, Jr. (1949)
In the Groove, Claude Clark (1934- 1943)
The Mandolin Player, John Biggers (ca. 1940s)
The Death of Bessie Smith, Rose Piper (1947)
Baby on Bird (Untitled), Thelma Johnson Streat (ca. 1945)
Khambavati, Walter Augustus Simon (1953)
String Dance #2, Walter Augustus Simon (1951)
Untitled, Vertis Hayes (ca. 1940s)
The Body Holds the Score: Art, Music, and Movement as Means to Embodiment
“We are going to continue to promote embodiment as the way of knowing.” (Fr. Richard Rohr)
“Movement helps breathing to become deeper, and as the tensions are released, expressive sounds can be discharged. The body becomes freer—breathing freer, being in flow. Touch makes it possible to live in a body that can move in response to being moved” (Van der Kolk, 219)
Black bodies are entrenched in generational trauma; our bodies held high by resiliency. Movement to counteract the numbing survival; rhythm connecting our sinew and threads to the ancestors. A part of each other is mixed in to the next for the sake of continuity in the folds of our movements, in the folds of skin, holding ourselves together. Through music, movement, and making, we are reclaiming the geographical contours of bodies once illegally manifest destinied for sport. Few acts are as revolutionary as embodiment. Change is to be embodied. That guttural yell of “no more” is to be embodied. The healing we claim is to be embodied. We are healing through rhythmicity and reciprocity, in sync with ourselves and others.
Kenneth Wayne Alexander II
Note: The exhibition is best visible and maneuvered on a laptop or desktop computer. Select "accept all cookies" and use the map in the bottom left hand corner to help guide you through the space. You can also click the floor to walk, drag the screen to pivot, and click on individual work for a full view.