Baltimore artists Stewart Watson and Lauren Frances Adams present Time & Place, a public art series commissioned by the Alexandria Office of the Arts.
Opening on May 20th, 2017 and on view through Labor Day, Baltimore artists Stewart Watson and Lauren Frances Adams present Centennial of the Everyday, a series of interventions created throughout the historic Gadsby’s Tavern Museum. These works of art reflect the artists’ extensive research on the history of women, enslaved peoples, and anonymous citizens in Alexandria whose stories are rarely told in light of the typical fêting of historically famous individuals, such as America’s Founding Fathers. Living community members are featured who have a relationship to the Gadsby Tavern building or John Gadsby himself (such as descendants of John Gadsby and Nancy Syphax, one of the women enslaved by John Gadsby during the 19th century).
Encompassing familiar domestic materials such as furniture, stoneware, and textiles, Watson and Adams evocatively document period-specific historic ephemera (such as architecture, newspaper reports, poetry, portraiture of anonymous women, and pattern books) in new contexts. Animated video, the Female Stranger’s canopy bedding, and a sculptural reversal of the ‘Alexandria Ballroom’ acknowledging the centennial of its acquisition by the Metropolitan Museum in New York, comprise just a few of the works which will be on display.
The artists weave themes of anonymity, loss, connectivity and the fragility of memory in museum and public record archives alongside the lived stories of present-day Alexandrians. Interpretations of quotidian life are upended from the defined categories of history, resulting in a display that negotiates the contradictions of the museum’s precise timeline within and against the region’s rich untold diversity.