The loan of this artwork is courtesy of the Speed Art Museum, Lousiville, KY.

September 11–November 30, 2020

This fall, The Contemporary Dayton is pleased to present Nari Ward’s work, We the People. With this nearly 60-foot-wide wall installation, which consists of thousands of shoelaces that hang fringe-like from the gallery wall, Ward recreates the words that start the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, replicating the font and style of the Constitution’s main scribe, Timothy Matlack. In pairing the most quotidian of materials with one of our country’s most lofty and enduring ideas, Ward seeks to explore how this living document remains vital as Americans prepare to participate in one of the most crucial elections of our lifetime.

Additionally, The Co will collaborate with the League of Women Voters in the Greater Dayton Area, by turning the gallery into a voter registration center and delivering every newly registered voter’s documents to the Montgomery County Board of Elections on a daily basis. Registration will include the ability to receive mail-in ballots.

The work itself will be scaled so large that it can be experienced from the street outside The Co as well as in its full glory from inside the gallery. Furthermore, the work will remain lit every night during the exhibition, a beacon to the deep and enduring ideas that it signifies. The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color publication with an interview with the artist and an explanation of the installation process. During the exhibition, The Co’s website will feature a virtual showroom which will contain images, essays, interviews, and videos that further explore Nari Ward’s work and ideas.

For nearly 30 years of an internationally recognized career, Nari Ward’s practice has centered on the accumulation of overwhelming amounts of modest, everyday items, repurposing them in consistently astonishing ways. His methods emanate from a variety of folk traditions from Jamaica, his birthplace, that are centered on the recycling of non-traditional art materials as well as found materials from Harlem, where he has lived and worked for the past 25 years. More importantly though, Ward has drawn many of his ideas from research into specific histories and places, often revisiting the ideas and struggles of immigration and displacement as an American tradition. In this endeavor, Ward’s work makes viewers aware of commonalities that link geographically and culturally disparate communities providing insight into the strains between tradition and transformation.

Ward’s career has seen exhibitions at The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA, The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA, The Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis, MN, and The Perez Art Museum, Miami, FL. His career retrospective opened at The New Museum, NY in February 2019 and has since traveled to The Contemporary Arts Center, Houston, TX, and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO.

Nari Ward, working on the installation of We the People at The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, 2011. Photo: Carlos Avendaño.
Additional Programs & Initiatives

Voter Registration Center at The Co, September 11–October 5, 2020

In partnership with the League of Women Voters in the Greater Dayton Area, a non-partisan political organization, the gallery will be transformed into a voters registration center at which the general public can enter freely and register to vote. In accordance with the Montgomery County Board of Elections, completed registrations will be hand-delivered to the Board of Elections daily.

Virtual Viewing Room

A curated digital portal to learn more about the artist, his work, and his place in contemporary art today; featuring interviews and exhibition tours on loan from the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, the Pérez Art Museum, Miami and Lehmann Maupin, New York.

Exhibition Publication

A full-color publication with an interview with the artist by Guest Curator, Michael Goodson; exhibition checklist; artist biography, and annotations of additional resources.

Ohio Curators Safely-Distanced Breakfast
& Live ZOOM Tour

Thursday, September 10, 10 a.m.–12 p.m.

An on-site and virtual opportunity for our 75+ Ohio museum and gallery curator partners to learn about the exhibition, it’s potential to tour to partner venues, and meet the curator.

Friends & Family Open House

September 11, 12–4 p.m.
Director & Guest Curator Remarks, 3 p.m.

With special guests Mayor Nan Whaley, Dayton City Commissioners, and Community Leaders from the Dayton Unit, NAACP; the NCCJ, and more.

Meet the Artist: A Virtual Interview with Nari Ward
& Guest Curator Michael Goodson

First Friday, October 2, 6 p.m.

Exhibition Sponsorships & Benefits

$10,000 Presenting Sponsor

•Logo and name on title page

•Level 3 recognition on exhibition wall and website;

Level 3 is 3” vinyl company logo on exhibition wall
and on sponsor section of website

•All benefits listed below

$5,000 Digital Sponsor

•Web page banner

•All benefits listed below

$2,500 Exhibition Partner

•Level 2 recognition on exhibition intro wall and website;

Level 2 is 2” vinyl company logo on exhibition wall
and on sponsor section of website

•All benefits listed below

$1,500 Public Program Partner

• Level 1 recognition on exhibition intro wall and website;
Level 1 is 1” vinyl company logo on exhibition wall
and on sponsor section of website

• All benefits listed below

$500 Exhibition Friend

• Recognition on gallery signage, all print and digital materials

• Invitation to Sponsor Preview