View & Reflect

Welcome to our new Online Viewing Room, designed to spark a deeper relationship between our audience and art. Although we know that the physical experience of interacting with works of art never could be replaced, we invite you to come back and continue your exploration again and again, as we will add more content to explore in the coming weeks and months.

Nari Ward: We the People

In the fall of 2020, The Contemporary Dayton was pleased to present Nari Ward’s work We the People. With this nearly 40-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 iconic font and style as they appear on our most seminal document. In paring 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 entered one of the most crucial elections of our lifetime.

Additionally during this exhibition, The Co collaborated with the League of Woman Voters in the Greater Dayton Area, 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 included the ability to receive mail-in ballots

The work itself was scaled so large that it could be experienced from the street outside The Co as well as in its full splendor from inside the gallery. Furthermore, the work remained lit every night during the exhibition, acting as a beacon to the deep and enduring ideas that it signifies.

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 twenty-five years. More importantly, Ward had 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.

We are honored to present, along with our partners at the Dayton Daily News, “In the Balance,” this modest effort to unite our community and it’s trials of the COVID-19 pandemic through art – the quiet, poignant, and reflective work of 26 photographers.

Our deepest gratitude to our sponsor the Kettering Health Network, and to our partners at the DDN, Emily Broughton, Adrian Zamarron, Anthony Shoemaker for making this presentation possible.

To Tracy Longley-Cook, project curator, whose critical eye, inquisitiveness, and sensitivity made all the difference. And finally, to the artists, whom in times like these, give voice to us all: Adam Alonzo, Rebekah Alviani, Stephanie Baker, Paul Bruce, Shon Curtis, Erica Goulart, Shawna Hatton, Matthew Helton, Glenna Jennings, Julie Renée Jones, Becky Khan, Michael Krieger, Ishmael McKinney, Amalia Rose Petreman, Mara Quintero, Rachel Girard Reisert, Brittany Robinson, Kate Slonaker, Jeffrey M. Smith, Jill Spencer, Leah Stahl, Ryan Taylor, Kathy Turner, Joel Whitaker, Kyle Wilkinson and Chris Yakopcic.

UPDATE: Nina Chanel Abney's Artist Talk will be livestreamed instead of in-person on Saturday, September 18 at 6 p.m.