REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM CAMPAIGN FOR SOUTHERN EQUALITY

In April, the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (BMCM+AC) opened a new exhibition, I AM A CITIZEN OF THE WORLD, which features the artwork of Southern Equality Studios artists Liz Williams and Al Murray. Southern Equality Studios is a program of the Campaign for Southern Equality focused on connecting with and supporting queer artists and creatives across the South and exploring how art is a catalyst in and force for achieving social change. 

Through video and photographic work, entitled “Building a Better Table” and “You’re Welcome” (commissioned by BMCM+AC), Williams and Murray invite the viewer to explore their role in taking or having a “seat at the table” — that is, how we use our voices and positions to enact social change. The work encourages viewers to acknowledge how their own place in the world may relate to the representation and liberation of BIPOC and queer people. 

The multimedia piece “Building a Better Table” allows viewers to literally take a seat in front of a printed work and video. When the viewer sits, they reveal a series of words and images in a scene of a table presided over by models Quay Mills and Sage Jean, who wear shirts emblazoned with the words “You’re Welcome,” nudging viewers to acknowledge labor performed for their benefit and also serving as a cordial invitation to join in the work for social change. The viewer is guided a step further by being encouraged to create their own calls to action and share these aspirations as a promise to themself as well as to their community

Liz Williams, Southern Equality Studios Manager for the Campaign for Southern Equality, said about the work:

“Being a global citizen means becoming aware of the wider world and our place in it, and these works point to that awareness in two distinct ways: first, to respond to the mainstream exclusion and erasure of BIPOC trans and queer voices, and second, to hold audience members accountable for their own complacency and demand their commitment to address those exclusions. We’re grateful to Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center for the opportunity to share this message in this exhibition, and we’re looking forward to a spring and summer season of inviting everyone to help build a better table so we all have an impactful seat.”

Al Murray, Director of Relationships & Special Projects at the Campaign for Southern Equality, said today:

“The Southern Equality Studios program has evolved over the past three years at the Campaign for Southern Equality — but at the heart of it all has been centering the power of art to open our hearts, expand our minds, and create change. I’m excited about this new undertaking for Southern Equality Studios and can’t wait for folks across the region to see this work and think about how they can build a better table.”

The exhibition also features historic work by BMC artists including Josef and Anni Albers, Leo Amino, Ruth Asawa, Ilya Bolotowsky, Jack Tworkov, Jean Varda and more. Contemporary responses include works from Iván Argote, Onicas Gaddis, Steve Locke, Mateo López, Sherrill Roland, Southern Equality Studios (Liz Williams and Al Murray), Javier Téllez and Grace Villamil. Curated by Kate Averett and Alice Sebrell.

I AM A CITIZEN OF THE WORLD will be available to view from April 9 – August 14, 2021. To learn how to make an appointment, go to blackmountaincollege.org/visit.

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