The Schneider Museum of Art created Art Beyond in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to site art in the community, unbound by the physical walls of the museum. The same sentiment is echoed in Migration Studies (No. 49...), an iterative work whose meaning is partially determined by site. In this case, the barn installation uses unseen forces (time and exposure to the elements) as urgent materials in making meaning. Importantly, the site recalls histories of barn quilts as navigation tools, signaling direction and location for travelers. I am specifically interested in how the mythology of "quilt codes," signaling safe passage North via pattern and image, were perhaps a a kind of cartography of liberation for travelers on the Underground Railroad. To my mind the "truth" function of this history is somewhat irrelevant. What is "true" and what is "real" are ideas that can co-exist across a spectrum. In the absence of so-called proof of the existence of quilt codes and, in trying to imagine what might have been, the value of inventing legacies of survival renders our stories and oral histories as real and true as the evidence of our ongoing erasure from the official narrative has been.
Photos courtesy of the artist.