Call & Response 2020


Call & Response is a cumulative project that gathers a community of artists who share a commitment to the radical Black imagination as a means to re-examine the past and imagine a better future. Returning participants include textile artist Arianne King Comer, choreographer Reggie Wilson, interdisciplinary artist Portia Cobb, and chef and food scholar Scott Alves Barton. We build the Call & Response community through residencies, exhibitions, performances, educational and public programs, and collaborations and site visits with new artists. While the pandemic has forced us to cancel or postpone most public events at Lynden, we have continued our work both onsite and virtually, taking advantage of the opportunities to work quietly on Lynden’s 40 acres or to erase geographical distance through virtual collaboration. Some projects combine the virtual and the in-person, with objects being mailed from location to location as they are worked on by many different hands, eventually finding their way to Lynden to be seen—even at a distance—by our visitors. Additional participants this year include visual artist Ariana Vaeth; sculptor Glenn Williams; and Harlem Needle Arts.

In addition, the overlap between Call & Response and HOME, our refugee-guided work with displaced communities, has grown through the efforts of Kim Khaira, artist-in-residence and Lynden’s community engagement specialist, and Arianne King Comer who, like Portia Cobb, sits on the Refugee Steering Committee. Among the HOME programs that directly address the intersection of refugees and Black residents in Milwaukee is the bimonthly series HOME: Conversations on Black Lives Matter.

We continue to plan for the future of Call & Response. Several of the projects begun this year stretch into the future. We have also continued to lay the groundwork for In the Healing Language of Trees: a natural act of transformation restructured for curing many ills, a project with visual artist Daniel Minter that will unfold across two summers. We expect to produce POWER, the third piece in Reggie Wilson’s trilogy next summer, bringing Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group back to Lynden for an extended residency. Our planned exhibition with Latrelle Maria Rostant was delayed by the pandemic, but she joined our virtual Innovative Educators Institute from Baltimore as a master artist, giving us all an opportunity to work alongside each other.

Call & Response 2020

The self-portraits in Ariana Vaeth’s exhibition, mostly with companions, find Vaeth participating in the rituals and inhabiting the environments of close friendship: talking, hanging out in kitchens and bathrooms, curled up on a couch. They convey intimacy—and especially the intimacy of young women—with an intensity that borders on the magical. Fifty percent of the proceeds of each sale will go to the Milwaukee Freedom Fund to be used to
defend Chrystul Kizer, a young survivor of sex trafficking who currently faces murder charges
for killing her trafficker in self-defense.

Reggie Wilson returned for a three-week summer residency during which he produced Choreographers in Place: Secrets of Process, a series of interviews with fellow choreographers sheltering in New York and Japan. Wilson invited Nora Chipaumire, Jeanine Durning, Okwui Okpokwasili, and Eiko Otake—four choreographers who have presented work and/or performed at the sculpture garden—to talk with him individually about choreography and place. A co-presentation of the Lynden and Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group (Brooklyn, NY).

We had to postpone “Seeking,” Portia Cobb’s performance exploring female rites of passage inspired by the parallels between her mother’s experiences growing up in the Sea Islands and a recent trip to Sierra Leone, but she continued her work in Lizzie’s Garden. Her collaborator, sculptor Glenn Williams, completed the bottle tree sculpture that will form the backdrop for her performance next summer.

Scott Barton, who lives in New York, is planning, preparing, and filming a meal for lost Black lives. Barton is collaborating with groups and individuals in his Harlem community and further afield: the food will be distributed to local elders after the shoot; Arianne King Comer has dyed a series of dish towels that are now being embroidered by the members of Harlem Needle Arts, an organization at the forefront of revolutionizing, preserving, and expanding the narrative of fiber, textile, design, and needle arts in the African Diaspora. When we make the video available online, these artifacts will go on view in Lynden’s porch, visible to all those who visit the grounds.

Arianne King Comer, who has worked with refugee women at Lynden since 2017, has embarked on a project with local refugee women, designing, batiking, and stitching “healing coats” that carry culturally specific messages of healing. We see this as a pilot that has the potential to spread well beyond Milwaukee, and hope to launch a traveling exhibition of the healing coats at Lynden in 2022.

For information on past Call & Response programming: 2018, 2019

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