The City of Alexandria’s Office of the Arts partners with Baltimore-based artists Stewart Watson and Lauren Frances Adams for a series of site-specific, all-media installations inspired by the history of Gadsby’s Tavern Museum.
Centennial of the Everyday features artistic interventions tucked in among the historic exhibits. It will be on view May 15 - September 3, 2017, at the Museum, located at 143 North Royal Street.
The works on view reflects the artists’ extensive, in-depth research—documented via social media—on the history of women, enslaved peoples, and anonymous citizens whose stories are overshadowed by other more famous historic figures from the region, such as George Washington and Robert E. Lee.
With furniture, stoneware, textiles and other domestic materials as a starting point, historic ephemera takes on new contexts. They seek to turn the archival into the interactive.
They identified personal stories of place and family history by interviewing people like the descendants of John Gadsby, as well as Nancy Syphax, an enslaved woman owned by Gadsby in the 19th century. In all, they collaborated with seven subjects, focusing on women and people of color.
With these narratives, the pair created fantastical artistic interventions, positioned throughout Gadsby’s Tavern Museum. Each highlight points from the Museum’s history and archives and parallel the lived stories of present-day Alexandrians and the region’s rich diversity. Architectural fixtures, portraiture of anonymous women, pattern books, and newspaper articles take on new meaning when framed with themes of anonymity, loss, connectivity, and the fragility of memory.
This project is a first for the Office of the Arts’ Time & Place series, which explores the intersection of contemporary art with Alexandria’s rich and multifaceted history. It’s in partnership with the Office of Historic Alexandria. The goal of this compelling project is to foster exploration and dialogue about our region’s history and its continued reverberations within our community today. Follow #TimeandPlaceALX to join the conversation online. For more information, visit alexandriava.gov/94687.
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