Saturday, Jul 31, 12 AM

Behind Every Beautiful Thing: Encountering Bodies, Wrestling the Human Condition

Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans

Following an unprecedented pandemic year, the heightened visibility of health inequity throughout the nation has elevated concerns about mental and physical well-being, the industrialization of medical practices, disease, illness, and (dis)/ability. Featuring multimedia artworks from 36 Gulf South artists, the CAC's annual Open Call exhibition offers a deeply personal portrayal of artists' experiences with health and illness, and the reverberating impact on the life, body, and psyche of the individual and their community. Reserve Gallery Admissions Online General Admission: $10 Students: $8 CAC Members: Free ** CAC Members: to receive free admissions online: follow the link above, choose the number of admissions, sign in to your account (upper right corner), and the discount will be applied. Meet the Guest Curator: David W. Robinson-Morris, Ph.D. "Behind Every Beautiful Thing: Encountering Bodies, Wrestling the Human Condition" has been curated by Dr. David W. Robinson-Morris Ph. D, Founder and Chief Reimaginelutionary at The REImaginelution, LLC, a strategic consulting firm working at the intersections of imagination, policy, practice, and prophetic hope to radically reimagine diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) toward racial justice and systemic transformation. Most recently, he served as the Regional Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Ochsner Health System for the Bayou Region of Louisiana. David is also the Founding Director of The Center for Equity, Justice, and the Human Spirit at Xavier University. Program Activities Exhibition Opening Celebration Saturday, July 31, 2021 6 - 10 pm | Free and open to the public Join us in celebrating the opening of our 2021 Gulf South Open Call exhibition with an evening of festivities including music by DJ Felice Gee and cash bars. At 7 pm, join us for a Grounding Ritual and Activation with Soundscape by Funké led by local healer and creative GIA. RSVP on Facebook Gris Gris Lab July 31 - September 26, 2021 Created by "Gris Gris Mama" Gia M. Hamilton and located inside the CAC's Oval Gallery, the Gris Gris lab is an Afrofuturist Apothecary designed to ground, shift energy, and prepare the viewer to enter the portal and the exhibition. Activations and performances will take place in this space throughout the summer of 2021. StudioV August 12, 2021 and September 2, 2021 5 pm CDT on Zoom Join us for virtual studio tours featuring Gulf South artists from Behind Every Beautiful Thing. Tours will be hosted online via Zoom by guest curator David W. Robinson-Morris, Ph.D. Details coming soon Panel Discussion: "Behind Healing and Wholeness: Art + Health" September 9, 2021 6 - 7:30 pm at the CAC Join us for a panel discussion featuring artists and health policy-makers, hosted by guest curator David W. Robinson-Morris, Ph.D. Details coming soon About the Exhibition Curatorial Essay by David W. Robinson-Morris, Ph.D. Health and happiness have become deeply commodified in our society. Daily we are bombarded with advertisements about how to lose weight, gain happiness, remove signs of aging, numb ourselves to the reality of suffering, and the promise of prolonging the inevitability of this life's only inevitability-we live and most assuredly we will die. There is so much beauty in-between those two events that mark our beginning and our beginning anew. Yet, as a society we have become so focused on what Foucault terms the aesthetics of our existence: a care aimed at the body and mind, its longevity, health, beauty, fitness, and aesthetic happiness. We have forgotten what our ancestors knew so well-the aim has always been achieving the good life, relishing in the beautiful moments, resting in between our wrestling, and encountering bodies not as adversaries but as wellsprings for the pleasures of this world, for living, loving and being loved; for the freedom to be on one's own terms. Health is not something we owe to the world and yet the world seems hell bent on making us pay up. We are covered in the soot of grief and the ashes of mourning. We have come to realize behind every beautiful thing lurks the joy and the wound of the human condition: birth, love, death, dis-ease, grief, suffering, sickness, aging, sex, happiness, joy, and anger. The last couple of years have highlighted for each human being across the globe the temporality of the body, the joy of being human, and the great woundedness of humanity. Indeed, behind every beautiful thing is a hidden pain that we face both in our encounter with other bodies and in our isolated solidarity. We form a web-a web of human beings who are wrestling with the human condition and who are living in bodies that can take no more. These bodies have reached their limit of coercion, manipulation, medicalization, institutionalization, and disciplining from forces internal and external. This exhibition asks one to grapple with and question: What does it mean to be a human being, a self, a body? What does it mean to be healthy? What does it mean to be both embodied and not yet born to the realization of our individual and collective immensity? What does it mean to be reduced to a body trapped in its quest for its own survival within the gaze of medicalization? Finally, is the beauty of the human experience worth the writhing joy and suffering of the human condition? The global proliferation of the Coronavirus and the extrajudicial murders of Black and Brown human beings at the hands of American law enforcement have forced us all to open our collective eyes to the pain of human suffering and collective dis-ease. We have come to understand, through our own grief and pain, the beauty of this human experience; we only realize the absolute joy of presence through absence; we come to experience the deepest depths of grief only because we have known the pinnacle of love. We come to value our health once we have been denied its embrace and we know without a shadow of a doubt that healing is a battle, because we have fought and are fighting so diligently for our return to healthiness and wholeness. "Behind Every Beautiful Thing: Encountering Bodies, Wrestling the Human Condition" is an invitation to step into the vortex of the human condition and of embodiment to make peace with not understanding; to make peace with difference; to make peace with our bodies and their limitations. Poet and author Sonya Renee Taylor, writes "We are not less valuable, worthy, or lovable because we are not healthy." These artists from across the Gulf South steers us on a multimodal and multidimensional journey of the human experience where at every turn we encounter ourselves, our bodily oppression, shame, but also the pleasure and joy of being human, the longing for touch and absent embrace mournful for bodies no longer present. These artists speak to the grief that follows death or the tussle of mental dis-ease, and call us to resist the terror of our condition through expressions of healing that can destabilize our docility and institutionalized notions of health. Behind Every Beautiful Thing is a reminder that there is no standard of health achievable for all bodies, we are all wrestling with the human condition, and an opportunity to peer painfully into the eyes of radical healing toward an embodied way of knowing. Like the beauty behind everything, nothing can heal without pain. We acknowledge the heaviness of this exhibition, the emotions it will stir, and the dis-ease it may evoke within our bodies and psyches. If healing is a return to wholeness, then in our fragmented society each individual, and in turn the collective must turn their attention to where the wound was made and the spirit wounded. After you have experienced the exhibit, we invite you to ground and cleanse yourselves in the Gris Gris Lab: An Afrofuturist Apothecary, a healing vortex for power and release curated by Gris Gris Mama Gia M. Hamilton.