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“Behind Every Beautiful Thing: Encountering Bodies, Wrestling the Human Condition”: collective show at Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans

New Orleans, USA
July 31, 2021 – September 26, 2021

Behind Every Beautiful Thing: Encountering Bodies, Wrestling the Human Condition (2021). Installation view. Image courtesy of Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans

Behind Every Beautiful Thing: Encountering Bodies, Wrestling the Human Condition (2021). Installation view. Image courtesy of Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans

Behind Every Beautiful Thing: Encountering Bodies, Wrestling the Human Condition (2021). Installation view. Image courtesy of Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans

The Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans (CAC) is pleased to welcome back audiences with the announcement of its Summer / Fall 2021 multidisciplinary arts season, featuring in-person performances, exhibitions, artist residencies, and online programming.

Anchored by Inter[SECTOR], the CAC’s multi-year, multidisciplinary program that explores issues of incarceration, health, and the environment, several exhibitions and performances will foster cross-sector collaborations that place art and social issues into context. By building coalitions between artists, civic leaders, and impacted communities, the CAC seeks to foster awareness, empathy, and greater civic dialogue through contemporary art.

The CAC’s season and Inter[SECTOR] programming opens with its annual Open Call exhibition for Gulf South artists entitled Behind Every Beautiful Thing: Encountering Bodies, Wrestling the Human Condition,  featuring multimedia works by artists from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas. The exhibition offers a deeply personal portrayal of artists’ experiences with health and illness, and the reverberating impact on the life, body, and psyche of the individual and their community.

Behind Every Beautiful Thing: Encountering Bodies, Wrestling the Human Condition has been curated by Dr. David W. Robinson-Morris Ph. D, Founder and Chief Reimaginelutionary at The REImaginelution, LLC, a strategic consulting firm working at the intersections of imagination, policy, practice, and prophetic hope to radically reimagine diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) toward racial justice and systemic transformation.  Most recently, he served as the Regional Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Ochsner Health System for the Bayou Region of Louisiana. David is also the Founding Director of The Center for Equity, Justice, and the Human Spirit at Xavier University.

After a robust submission and review process, 36 artists were selected including: Artemis Antippas, Jan Arrigo, Abdul Aziz, Micaela Rianne Cadungog, Anita Cooke, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Stephen Paul Day, Muse Dodd, Andrea Dubé,  Su Ecenia, Owen Ever, James Flynn, Steven Forster, Maria Haag, Ann Haley, Sally Heller, Veronica Ibargüengoitia, Kabot + Desmarais, Heather Ryan Kelley, Frahn Koerner, Maria Lino, Lake Newton, Mary Jane Parker, Antoine Prince Jr., Nik Richard, Coralina Rodriguez Meyer, Judith Rushin-Knopf, Caroline Ryan, Cynthia Scott, Rick Shopfner, Sam Spahr, Jamie Spinello, Sarah Sudhoff,  VntheV, and Caitlin Ezell Waugh. In tandem with the exhibition, Gia M. Hamilton will present Gris Gris Lab: An Afrofuturist Apothecary, an arts and healing incubator in the CAC’s Oval Gallery.

“We have come to realize behind every beautiful thing lurks the joy and the wound of the human condition: birth, love, death, dis-ease, grief, suffering, sickness, aging, sex, happiness, joy, and anger,” says guest curator Dr. David Robinson-Morris Ph.D. “The last couple of years have highlighted, for every human being across the globe, the temporality of the body, the joy of being human, and the great woundedness of humanity.”

CAC Executive Director George Scheer adds, “We are fortunate to have the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and a community of long-time supporters who, in this critical moment, have decided to support transformational artistic programs like Inter[SECTOR] at the CAC, and many others around the country.”

The CAC’s Inter[SECTOR] programs continue September 17 and 18 with a series of performances by CAC artists-in-residence The Graduates, a New Orleans-based performance ensemble composed of formerly-incarcerated women and former members of the Drama Club at Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women (LCIW).

After its debut at The Ford Foundation in 2017, The Graduates will present Life, a performance created to accompany The Life Quilt (2017), a hand-beaded quilt adorned with the names of the 107 women serving life sentences in Louisiana. Crafted to honor these women, Life combines spoken word, music, dance, video, and live musical accompaniment by New Orleans musicians Zohar Israel and Big Chief David Montana.

While in-residence at the CAC, The Graduates’ Co-Directors Ausettua AmorAmenkum and Kathy Randels launched Sacred Wellness 360, a series of workshops designed to help formerly-incarcerated women heal from the trauma of prison. Inspired by these efforts, The Graduates will present the world premiere of Sacred Journey, a performance that addresses the thoughts, challenges, and needs of the women as they continue to heal from the carceral system.

For the centerpiece of its Inter[SECTOR] programming, the CAC will venture off-site to Algiers Point across from the Algiers Courthouse for an outdoor presentation of  Jo Kreiter and Flyaway Productions’ The Wait Room, an aerial performance that exposes the physical, psychic, and emotional burden faced by women with incarcerated loved ones. Utilizing a large hydraulic stage shaped as a clock dial, the performance incorporates dance, installation, an original score by Pamela Z, and oral histories of women whose families are fractured by the carceral system.


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