We were honored to be one of 12 North Carolina artists selected by American Dance Festival to perform in front of several installations of this outdoor exhibition created by artist Carrie Mae Weems. This project is the Nasher Museum’s eighth collaboration with ADF.
The Nasher Museum of Art collaborated with Duke Arts and Duke Health to present this unprecedented outdoor exhibition. The project emphasizes the disproportionate impact of the deadly virus on the lives of communities of color, through large-scale banners and window clings, posters, street signs, and more.
“I have long admired Carrie Mae Weems. Her work insists that we not simply look but really see, human to human. Her work asks us to see a piece of the world that is uniquely personal and yet participates in a larger cultural conversation. I was really drawn to the hope and humanity of this project, and the seemingly-effortless images that reveal the complexities of representation and the power of demanding to be seen. To me, the size and scale of the project asked for reverence – and that is exactly how we wanted to respond performatively to the seriousness of its message, with reverence and honor.”
“I began by asking myself what structures of power did we want to make visible? What social dynamics did we want to tackle? And how did I want to intertwine my admiration for this artist’s body of work into my approach? I knew we would dress in all black as an ode to her series Roaming and Museums where she stands in a long black dress with her back to the camera. In both series, she uses her body to stand in for the masses while it points at architecture as a ruling “edifice of power.” I also knew I wanted to begin by simply composing an image that would emulate a photograph as a way to be in dialogue with her art form. I was also interested in exploring domestic, reclined poses as a nod to her iconic Kitchen Table series.”
“I then wanted to create an interplay between stillness and motion, sanctuary and battleground, lethargy and action. We ultimately wanted to be in dialogue with her message while honoring those that have been disproportionately impacted by the virus. Collectively we are a diverse company composed of Latino, Native American, European, and Filipino-American. We wanted to feel that we could turn and face this together. I have a deep belief in the power of awareness as the first step in creating change. I consider our work to be a deep bow to the power of this artist, her work, and message.”
— ShaLeigh Comerford, Founder, Artistic Director, ShaLeigh Dance Works, on performing original choreography in response to RESIST COVID / TAKE 6! at the Durham Station.