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SHELDON SCOTT   “Altar of Repose: I’m gonna lay down…”

PERFORMANCE: June 18, 2022, 9am – 5pm, gallery front lawn.   EXHIBITION: June 20 – August 6, 2022, by appointment.

tar and hammock

Sheldon Scott studio view. photograph: Jati Lindsay

CONNERSMITH is pleased to announce “Altar of Repose: I’m gonna lay down…” an exhibition of new multimedia works by Sheldon Scott.

As a prelude to the exhibition, concurrent with Juneteenth, the artist will debut a public performance which takes place Saturday, June 18, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm in front of CONNERSMITH at 1013 O Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001. Over the course of a full workday, he will enact leisure in a handmade hammock. This work stands in counterpoint to the performance of labor, a hallmark of Scott’s earlier artistic practice. 

Scott creates representations of leisure by augmenting hammocks crafted in the tradition of his Gullah-Geechee lineage with meaning-laden materials. “Each hammock will be made black through the processes of tarring, painting, sequinning and charring, with some containing elements such as nails and glass throughout,” the artist elaborates. He asserts, “These adornments will speak to industries where extraordinary labor practices live undergirded by hyper-capitalism, made evident in fields once established as areas of leisure, such as sports, entertainment and the arts.” Scott thereby posits the agency of rest and relaxation as forces of resistance to the commodification of Black physical and intellectual labor. He draws inspiration from Martin Puryear’s, “Ladder for Booker T. Washington,” as well as the Biblical story of Jacob’s Ladder. Scott explains, “These sources reference the thought of a ‘leisurely stroll to heaven for Black folk.’ My new body of work aims to catalyze ideation on how Black people have or have not been able to participate in rest, and more pointedly, how Black labor has been exploited for the rest of other peoples.” 

Leisure Swing, Sequin Black (MWP) - detail. 

Leisure Swing, Sequin Black (MWP) - detail. 

On a personal note, Scott discloses: “My beloved aunt, Queenie “Tiney” Knox Murray, was one of countless Black and brown women who worked as domestic housekeepers in the Deep South. For nearly 30 years, Tiney labored so that others could enjoy their leisure while vacationing at Myrtle Beach. On May 13th, 2022, Tiney became an ancestor and I am honored to dedicate this body of work to her legacy.”

Sheldon Scott (b. 1976, Pawley’s Island, SC) mines his experiences growing up in the Gullah/Geechee South and professional background in storytelling to examine the Black male form with particular emphasis on biases of usability and expendability in relation to constructs of race, economics and sexuality. 

Scott’s works have been presented at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; Delaware State University Art Center/Gallery, Dover, DE; American University Art Museum, Washington, DC; Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC. His work is the permanent collections of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA. He will also exhibit in “Spirit in the Land,” at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC, in 2023.

The show is on view by appointment and online June 20 – August 6, 2022. Contact info@connersmith.us.com to reserve an appointment.

All images copyright Sheldon Scott; photography Jati Lindsay.