Histories Collide: Jackie Milad x Fred Wilson x Nekisha Durrett
Following an open call to artists based in Maryland and neighboring states, Nekisha Durrett of Washington, D.C. and Jackie Milad of Baltimore were selected by a jury to create new works in dialogue with Fred Wilson’s Artemis/Bast (1992). The sculpture joins the body of Artemis, Greek goddess of the hunt, and the head of Bast (also known as Bastet), the more ancient Egyptian cat goddess. The black feline head sits atop the white plaster body, asserting Africa as a vital source of knowledge across the ancient world. The sculpture counters narratives that erased Africa’s cultural contributions.
Durrett and Milad responded with compelling proposals that engage with the provocation: “What images and thoughts emerge when myths and histories collide?”
For her multimedia works for the exhibition, Milad will create two large-scale collaged paintings, a cut-out fabric painting, as well as a bronze statuette. Her paintings incorporate ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and ancient American figures, pictures and letters from her family, irreverent pop culture references, fragments of poems, and contemporary aesthetics. Hot pink is a dominant hue, and hip-hop lyrics swirl their way into her collages.
For her proposed installation, Durrett turned to the legacy of Harriet Tubman and will produce an abstract study of Tubman’s revolutionary and visionary way of thinking. The multi-media work will feature a 10-foot black reflective circle, mounted to the wall and bisected by a line of white light. The circumference will be ringed with soil collected from the root of a tulip poplar known as the Witness Tree at Mt. Pleasant Acres Farms in Preston, Maryland, with permission from its stewards, Paulette Greene and Donna Dear. Born into slavery near this site, Tubman escaped in 1849 but returned in 1854 to rescue her father Ben, a free laborer, and her enslaved brothers Ben, Robert, and Henry.
Co-curated by Cecilia Wichmann, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, and Dave Eassa, Director of Public Engagement
A jury of distinguished cultural workers, including Angela N. Carroll, Teri Henderson, Ashley Minner, and Ginevra Shay, consulting with George Ciscle as the jury’s advisor, selected proposals by Durrett and Milad for commission.