On Friday, March 4th, participants gathered for the closing reception of “Traces & Trajectories”, an exhibit featuring the work of selected regional artists who have completed Rocket Grants-awarded projects during the first six years of the program.
The night was a high-spirited celebration that included a photo shoot produced by Blanket Undercover and musical performance conceived by Mark Southerland – both current grant recipients – as well as a preview of Minh Du Pha’s upcoming Magination wagon in the parking lot and a docent-led tour of the exhibition.
The ridiculously fun photo shoot you see here was dreamed up by Blanket – a long-term collaboration between artists Megan Mantia and Leone Reeves. Guests were greeted at the entrance by photographers with black turtle neck sweaters and fluffy white nylon Andy Warhol wigs and invited to pose with props that referenced the Warhol Foundation’s generous support of the Rocket Grants program.
Charlotte Street’s Executive Director Amy Kligman and Rocket Grants program coordinator Julia Cole welcomed guests, acknowledged the work of curators Melaney Mitchell and Blair Schulman, and thanked BNIM for their support of the event.
Then Mark Southerland and his collaborator Colleen Dieker performed a musical composition using an instrument Mark had built and which required both musicians to operate. The reconfigured wind instrument also features ceramic elements made by collaborator Linda Lighton. The mesmerizing performance – in which the duo glowed magically against the lavender walls, back-lit by warm lamp light – closed with Colleen vocalizing lyrics and enchanting audience members into an awed stillness, .
The night ended in a cacophony of voices – socializing, and exchanging interests and schedules, hopes and dreams. Quite a number of current and former grant recipients came and went throughout the evening, and many of them gathered for a group portrait in the photo booth.
This exhibit was a bold attempt to freeze a frame of a process that is constantly in lively motion – and yet somehow capture the essence and scope of an expansive program. This would have been an almost impossible task without the programming components that expanded on the traces and trajectories of evolving, public-facing practices (including Darryl Chamberlain, Don Wilkison & Amber Hansen) suspended on and between the gallery walls.
Jessica Borusky and Judith G. Levy’s conversation about persona and place; Dave Lowenstein and Sara Taliaferro’s facilitated discussion/workshop on place-making and place-keeping; Nedra Bonds and Michael Toombs provocation to think more deeply about community heroes; and PLUG Projects’ community critique night all helped to connect audiences with the open-ended processes of questioning, modeling and re-interrogation that artists contribute to dynamic cultures.
The Traces & Trajectories closing event gave us a glimpse into the inventive energies, surprising collaborations and fruitful partnerships that have generated six years of conversation, interest and introspection in so many unexpected places around the Kansas City regional community.
report by Rocket Grants intern Dexter F. E. Melton