Make America What America Must Become

Curated by George Scheer, Katrina Neumann, and Toccarra A. H. Thomas
Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans
Exhibition Dates: September 18, 2020 – January 24, 2021

Art in America – Kristina Kay Robinson
TERREMOTO – Nic Brierre Aziz
Burnaway – Nora Kovacs
The Gambit – Will Coviello

Opening Night Celebration: Saturday, September 19, 7-8:30pm

Panel discussion: “What America Must Become,” moderated by Toccara A. H. Thomas, featuring artists Derrick Woods-Morrow, AnnieLaurie Erickson, Lauren Cardenas, and Jeffery Darensbourg.

“Great men have done great things here, and will again, and we can make
America what America must become.” – James Baldwin

America is an anxious nation chasing a more perfect union. As it’s political body struggles along the arc of justice, the truths “we” hold, rarely appear self-evident. Complicated by an overtly mediated era, today’s social movements demand a punctuated examination of #historicalconsequence and #power. At this moment, the distance between Art and Politics—reflection and response—seems to be collapsing. In a letter to his nephew on the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, philosopher and American commentator, James Baldwin, offered an optimistic but urgent message, “Great men have done great things here, and will again, and we can make America what America must become.”

During a summer of electoral consternation, the CAC presents Make America What America Must Become, an exhibition of Gulf South Artists. Together, artists from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Bulbancha examine how power is made manifest in culture, politics, economics, and ecology. Their works speak urgently to the current political paradigm and reflect broadly on the conjuring and churning of the American fever dream.