Tribute to John Lewis and C.T. Vivian by Carl Hancock Rux, Carrie Mae Weems Features New Score by Meshell Ndegeocello in The Baptism (rhetoric)
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights to host virtual screening and panel discussion, February 9.
Watch full Lincoln Center commission on TheBaptismPoem.org
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts today released The Baptism (rhetoric), a new iteration of the visual poem tribute inspired by the legacies of civil rights leaders John Lewis and C.T. Vivian, by award-winning poet and artist Carl Hancock Rux, directed by visual artist Carrie Mae Weems, and now featuring a brand-new score by GRAMMY nominee Meshell Ndegeocello.
The original tribute, released last fall as The Baptism, featured Rux’s recitation of the three-part poem accompanied by Weems’ experimental imagery and direction, making for an existential and meditative exploration of the legacies of two towering icons and activists.
The new short film experience, along with the original piece, is available to view for free at TheBaptismPoem.org.
Speaking to the creation of the film, poet Carl Hancock Rux said, “… any and all forms of resistance require company. My voice needed an eye and a tonality. Carrie Mae Weems was the first artist I turned to, asking that she might film this poem, so that it existed as something more than words on paper; to help me see Lewis and Vivian through a clear and certain lens. The second person I asked to join me in this struggle was Meshell Ndegeocello because her music consistently offers a balm to the soul, even in moments of fear and uncertainty. The rest was simply a willingness to offer myself up to a tongue, a language, a means of articulation unity inspired.”
The Baptism (rhetoric) heightens the impactful recitation of the poem and magnifies its powerful themes of legacy and life after death, aided by Weems’ new visual direction and Ndegeocello’s original score. “I wanted to sonically create ease and lift so that the words [of the poem] could permeate one beyond their wake state, to provide the succor it gave me to confront my fear, and to re-examine within my dream state the vision of death so that I may truly begin to live,” said Meshell Ndegeocello.
In celebration of the enduring legacies of Lewis and Vivian in the U.S. and around the world, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights (The Center) will host a virtual screening and panel discussion of The Baptism original tribute film on Tuesday, February 9 at 3 p.m. ET, in partnership with Lincoln Center. The panel features Carl Hancock Rux and other esteemed panelists. The conversation will be moderated by Ellen McGirt, Senior Editor at Fortune Magazine and writer of the daily column raceAhead. Audiences can tune in on Lincoln Center’s Facebook and Youtube channels as well as The Center’s Facebook and Youtube pages.
In addition to the film tributes, audiences can access an intimate interview with Rux conducted by Carrie Mae Weems, available at TheBaptismPoem.org. In this telling conversation, Rux shares the profound and pivotal moments of his life that shaped him as a person, activist, and artist who grew to find inspiration in leaders like Lewis, who found “a way of speaking to the universe and through time.”
About Carl Hancock Rux
Carl Hancock Rux is an American poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, actor, director, singer/ songwriter. He is the author of several books including the Village Voice Literary Prize-winning “Pagan Operetta,” the novel, Asphalt, and the Obie Award-winning play, Talk. Rux is also a singer/songwriter with four CDs to his credit, as well as a frequent collaborator in the fields of dance, theater, film, and contemporary art. Notable collaborators include Nona Hendryx, Toshi Reagon, Bill T. Jones, Ronald K. Brown, Nick Cave, Anne Bogart, Robert Wilson, Kenny Leon, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Jonathan Demme, Stanley Nelson Jr., Carrie Mae Weems, Glenn Ligon and others. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Doris Duke Award for New Works, the Doris Duke Charitable Fund, the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Prize, the Bessie Award and the Alpert Award in the Arts, and a 2019 Global Change Maker award by WeMakeChange.Org. His archives are housed at the Billy Rose Theater Division of the New York Public Library, the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution as well as the Film and Video/Theater and Dance Library of the California Institute of the Arts. Mr. Rux is a co-Artistic Director of Mabou Mines.
About Carrie Mae Weems
Widely renowned as one of the most influential living American artists, Carrie Mae Weems examines how our society structures power through deeply embedded stories, images, and ideas. A gifted storyteller who works porously between text and image, Weems has developed a revolutionary approach to the expression of narratives about women, people of color and working-class communities, “conjuring lush art from the arid polemics of identity” (The New York Times). With a complex body of work encompassing photography, text, fabric, audio, digital image, installation, performance, and video, Weems’ work asks us to look deeply at the two-dimensional image, to explore complex realities and revisit unexamined perspectives.
Weems has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions at major national and international museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Frist Center for Visual Art, the Solomon Guggenheim Museum in New York, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo in Seville, Spain. Weems has received numerous awards and honors, including the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, the Rome Prize, the U.S. Department of State Inaugural Medal of Arts, BET Honors Visual Artist Award, and W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard University. She is represented in public and private collections around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; MoMA, NY; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; MOCA, Los Angeles; Whitney Museum, NY; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Tate Modern, London. Weems resides in Syracuse and Brooklyn, New York. She is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery.
About Meshell Ndegeocello
Meshell Ndegeocello has been doing her best since 1968.
About the National Center for Civil and Human Rights
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta is a cultural institution that connects the American Civil Rights Movement to the struggle for human rights around the world today. The Center features a continuously rotating exhibit from The Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection, which includes many of Dr. King’s documents and personal items. Visitors will be immersed in experiential exhibits through powerful and authentic stories, historic documents, compelling artifacts, and interactive activities. The Center is a source for ongoing dialogue – hosting educational forums and attracting world-renowned speakers and artists who work on a variety of human rights topics. For more information, visit www.civilandhumanrights.org. John the conversation on civil and human rights: facebook.com/ctr4chr/ | Instagram.com/ctr4chr | twitter.com/ctr4chr.
About Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is the steward of the world’s leading performing arts center, an artistic and civic cornerstone for New York City comprised of eleven resident companies on a 16-acre campus. The nonprofit’s strategic priorities include: supporting the arts organizations that call Lincoln Center home to realize their missions and fostering opportunities for collaboration across campus; championing inclusion and increasing the accessibility and reach of Lincoln Center’s work; and reimagining and strengthening the performing arts for the 21st century and beyond, helping ensure their rightful place at the center of civic life.
Lincoln Center’s artistic excellence is made possible by the dedication and generosity of our board members.
Public support for Lincoln Center is provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Gonzalo Casals, Commissioner, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
NewYork-Presbyterian is the Official Hospital of Lincoln Center
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