Centennial of the Everyday (collaborative project with Stewart Watson)
The artists researched, identified, and invited 7 subjects to collaborate with in creating the sculptural installation of chairs in the Gadsby Tavern ballroom, with a special emphasis on working with women and people of color. Interviews were conducted in the spirit of identifying personal stories of place and family history, so as to connect the interviewees to broader themes of belonging, work, identity, and genealogy. Most interviewees live and work in Virginia, with the exception of two, who are descendants of John Gadsby now living in Philadelphia and New York (reflecting the connection to Gadsby’s stagecoach-era east coast travel lines). The presentation of chairs in the ballroom is a direct acknowledgement of the acquisition of the original 18th century woodwork by Thomas Fortune Ryan for The Metropolitan Museum in 1917 for installation in the Period Rooms of the American Wing. This centennial is celebrated in a display of altered furniture acquired from the interviewees, similar to how the Met Museum uses the ‘Alexandria Ballroom’ as a staged backdrop for the fine domestic furnishings of the Federal period. The artists’ reversal is a framework that points to the limitations of the museum space to ‘snap to life’. By actively including living, everyday people and their stories, the archival becomes interactive. Through interviews, multiple visits, and the connecting of these interviewees with Gadsby’s Museum, the artists render these individuals’ stories into fantastical and inventive sculptural objects that emphasize the extraordinary within the conventional, and the personal within the universal.
ALL PHOTOS BY VINCE LUPO/DIRECTION ONE, INC.