By Natasha Anderson
Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (BMCM+AC) presents I Am a Citizen of the World, featuring the artwork of Southern Equality Studios (SES) artists Liz Williams and Al Murray. The work, which explores the intersections of art and social change, is available to view by appointment through August 14.
“My hope is that this installation will inspire people to answer the call to better their communities by acknowledging their privilege and using that privilege to lift up people and create environments of equity and equality,” says Williams, SES manager for the Campaign for Southern Equality.
Through video and photographic work titled Building a Better Table and You’re Welcome, Williams and Murray invite the viewer to explore their role in taking or having a seat at the table; in other words, using one’s voice and position to enact social change. The work encourages viewers to acknowledge how their own place in the world may relate to the representation and liberation of BIPOC and queer people.
The multimedia piece allows viewers to take a seat in front of a printed work and video, activating the reveal of a series of words and images in a scene presided over by models Quay Mills and Sage Jean. Mills and Jean wear shirts emblazoned with the words “You’re Welcome,” as a nudge to viewers to acknowledge labor performed for their benefit and to serve as a cordial invitation to join in the work for social change. The viewer is encouraged to create their own calls to action and share these aspirations as a promise to themselves as well as to their community.
“Al had the ingenious idea to take the video a step further and incorporate a digital interactive element,” says Williams. “We added motion and weight sensors that give the audience more control over what they are seeing.”
Southern Equality Studios is a program of the Campaign for Southern Equality focused on connecting with and supporting queer artists and creatives across the south and exploring how art is a catalyst in, and force for, achieving social change. Based in Asheville, the Campaign for Southern Equality works for full LGBTQ equality across the south. The organization’s work is rooted in commitments to equity in race, gender and class.
I Am a Citizen of the World also features historic work by BMC artists including Josef and Anni Albers, Leo Amino, Ruth Asawa, Ilya Bolotowsky, Jack Tworkov and Jean Varda. Contemporary responses include works from Iván Argote, Onicas Gaddis, Steve Locke, Mateo López, Sherrill Roland, Javier Téllez, and Grace Villamil. The exhibition was curated by Kate Averett and Alice Sebrell.
Schedule an appointment to view I Am a Citizen of the World at BlackMountainCollege.org/visit. Learn more about Southern Equality Studios and the Campaign for Southern Equality at SouthernEquality.org.