ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
"We move on
As the wheel wills; one revolution
Registers all things, the rise and fall
In pay and prices, peregrinations
Of lies and loves, colossal bangs and
Their sequential quiets in quick order. "
—The Age of Anxiety by W.H. Auden (1947)
The Enlightenment framers of American independence understood self-evidence as simple common sense—a basic hardware integrated into our minds—what everybody knows and nobody can deny. Derived from the natural laws of the universe, grounded in time and human faculty, self evident truths make way for unalienable Rights, a ready-made fabric of humanity that connects us as a nation. When we believe wholeheartedly in our commonality we stop asking questions about who We the People are and begin assigning values, laws, and order, which continue to shape this American experiment. Throughout history, periods erupt with the revelation that our common values do not serve, our laws abuse, and the order of our democracy—laid out in the Constitution as justice, tranquility, common defense and general welfare—appears imperfect and ungovernable.
Today, those truths we hold no longer appear common nor self evident, and the anxiety of that rupture cuts to the core of our very being as a nation. Four hundred artists from across the American Gulf South responded to this moment with how they see power manifest in culture, politics, economics, and environment. The works assembled for this exhibition speak to the current paradigm and reflect broadly on the conjuring and churning of our American fever dream. Examinations of citizenship and symbolism, identity, rights, labor, gender, race, family, sexuality, and geography—our deepest intimacies—permeate this presentation of Gulf South artists. The exhibition holds spaces of memorial and grief; pain and absurdity commingle where lands and rights are acknowledged and taken; people extradited and memories recovered are composed along hand sewn and embroidered borders; hints of hope, healing, and catharsis dangle like rosary beads. Revealed in the power of so many artists speaking to what they know is an America shaped by difference where being seen and represented is a necessary step to a more perfect union.
In a letter to his nephew published in 1962, on the hundredth anniversary of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, James Baldwin reflects on his “well meaning” countrymen. At a time of advancing civil rights and integration, Baldwin describes a “chorus of the innocents” that believe in a shared destiny and common purpose serving all Americans. “Most of them do not yet really know that you exist,” he cautions his nephew. These “authors of devastation,” whose innocence “constitutes the crime,” create and enforce the values, laws, and orders that condition American life. They write the history from their own self-evident revelations. They sustain societal norms with their own self-evident ways and enforce their power with their own self-evident might. “Trapped in a history which they do not understand,” Baldwin’s innocents cannot see how the nation, subjected and free, is of their own making. To this, Baldwin urges his nephew, “we with love shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it, for this is your home, my friend. Do not be driven from it. Great men have done great things here and will again and we can make America what America must become.”
Langston Allston (LA) | Jacksun Bein (LA)| Lauren Cardenas (MS) | Veronica Ceci (TX) | Artist Collaboration (LA): Savannah Levin, Lacy Levin, Nelle Edge, Caitlin, Natalia Roa, Elias Serhan, Antonia Zennaro | Kjelshus Collins (LA) | Veronica Cross (LA) | Luis Cruz Azaceta (LA) | Jeffery Darensbourg (Bulbancha) | Stephen Paul Day (LA) | Su Ecenia (FL) | AnnieLaurie Erickson (LA) | Adam Farcus (TX) | André Fuqua (TX) | Coulter Fussell (MS) | Dustin Harewood (FL) | Sarah Hill (LA) | Ariel René Jackson (TX) | C E Johnson (AL) | Darryl Lauster (TX) | Krystle Lemonias (FL) | Fernando Lopez (Bulbancha) | Gabriel Martinez (TX) | Lionel Milton/ELLEONE (LA) | Yue Nakayama (TX) | Ned&ShivaProductions (FL) (Javier Barrera and Lynn Burgos) | Derrick Woods-Morrow (IL) | Ozone 504 (Bulbancha) | Edison Peñafiel (FL) | Dan Rule (LA) | Dalila Sanabria (FL) | Caroline Sinders (LA)| Rosalie Smith (LA) | Gabrielle Garcia Steib (LA) | Kristine Thompson (LA) | Monique Verdin (LA)
ABOUT THE CURATORS
This exhibition is organized and presented by the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), New Orleans. Support for this exhibition is provided by Sydney & Walda Besthoff, The Helis Foundation, and the Welch Family Foundation. This exhibition is also supported by the City of New Orleans through a Community Arts Grant, as well as by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council.
ABOUT THE CAC
The CAC is a multidisciplinary arts center that is dedicated to the presentation, production, and promotion of the art of our time. The CAC is a cultural leader. As such, it organizes, presents, and tours curated exhibitions, performances and programs by local, regional, national, and international artists. It demonstrates proactive local and regional leadership by educating children and adults, cultivating and growing audiences, and initiating and encouraging collaboration among diverse artists, institutions, communities, and supporters. Museum admission is free on Sundays for Louisiana residents, courtesy of The Helis Foundation. Children & Students through Grade 12 and under receive free admission courtesy of The Helis Foundation. To learn more about the CAC and stay up to date on upcoming events and exhibitions, subscribe to our email list, below.
CAC BOARD OF TRUSTEES
David Thaddeus Baker
Michael R. Schneider
Board of Trustees
Carla D. Arriola
Anna Coleman Dunbar
Patrice Bell Mercadel
Shelby E. Russ, Jr.
Robyn Dunn Schwarz
Nathalie G. Simon
Warren M. Surcouf, III
Leopoldo J. Yanez
Sydney J. Besthoff
Thomas B. Coleman
Michael J. Siegel