MAKE AMERICA WHAT AMERICA MUST BECOME
The Contemporary Arts Center Presents An Exhibition of Gulf South Artists
"Great men have done great things here, and will again, and we can make America what America must become."
America is an anxious nation chasing a more perfect union. As its political body struggles along the arc of justice, the truths “we” hold, rarely appear self-evident. Complicated by an overtly mediated era, today's social movements demand a punctuated examination of #historicalconsequence and #power. At this moment, the distance between Art and Politics—reflection and response—seems to be collapsing. In a letter to his nephew on the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, philosopher and American commentator, James Baldwin, offered an optimistic but urgent message, "Great men have done great things here, and will again, and we can make America what America must become."
During a summer of electoral consternation, the CAC presents "Make America What America Must Become," an exhibition of Gulf South artists. Together, artists from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Bulbancha examine how power is made manifest in culture, politics, economics, and ecology. Their works speak urgently to the current political paradigm and reflect broadly on the conjuring and churning of the American fever dream.
We invite you to explore this exhibition below. Click or tap an image to learn more about each work, its artist, and more.
Jeffery U. Darensbourg and Fernando Lopez, "Hoktiwe: Two Poems in Ishakkoy," 2020. Poetry Reading/Video 07:01 min.
A Note from the Editors of Bulbancha Is Still a Place
In 1828 the first edition of the Cherokee Phoenix rolled off the press in New Echota, Georgia. It was the first Native American periodical, and the first in an Indigenous language. Its necessity was due to a lack of Indigenous viewpoints and representation in other media. It brought forth a lasting and positive legacy for Indigenous Peoples in colonized and occupied territories, opening a pathway of expression in print.
Our own anthology zine Bulbancha Is Still a Place: Indigenous Culture from "New Orleans" is an answer to a lack of Indigenous representation in Bulbancha, the original name for what colonists attempted to rename as “New Orleans.” We say “attempted” because there are still some of us who use the original name, meaning “the place of other languages” in Choctaw, a name referring to a multi-lingual place of cultural and economic interaction before European incursions into the area.
Indigenous People have never stopped living in Bulbancha.
We present to you a few images and article snippets from Bulbancha Is Still a Place here, and thank our many zine contributors and supporters in this journey. What follows contains the work of these contributors: Mato Redhawk; Catherine T. Nelson; Leila K. Blackbird; Jonathan Mayers; Fernando López (photos); Ida Aronson; Ayeta Chaouacha; Daniela Capistrano; Pippin Frisbie-Calder; Jessi Parfait (“Indians? What Indians?”piece); members of the Tunica-Biloxi Language and Cultural Revitalization Program; Rain Prud’homme-Cranford; Winter White Hat; Andrew Jolivétte; and our editorial team. Bulbancha forever!
Ozone504, Contributing Arts and Design Editor
Jeffery U. Darensbourg, Contributing Editor-Who’s-not-a-Chief
Adam Farcus, "Scream Chorus," 2020. Performance score, paint on wall, audio recordings. Photo by Mariana Sheppard
Jacksun Bein, "Until the Rain can help You to mourn and pray to the Killed," 2020. Interactive ephemeral installation, red clay, sunflower seeds, cypress vine seeds, magnolia seeds, 96 x 48 x 48 in, 80 lbs. Photo by Mariana Sheppard