The installation REWIND links the past with the present by visually embodying America’s uncomfortable history regarding issues of race, power and social justice. Using text, video and sculptural installations, REWIND re-envisions and re-imagines historical events and alludes to their relationship with current issues of power and injustice in America. In particular, the show combines traditional sculpture and other visual media alongside musical practices to illustrate and analyze the disproportional representation of young people of color in juvenile detention, the economics of the prison-industrial complex, the lingering effects of slavery, the explosive growth of the US prison system, and the relationships among these trends.
For the past two years the show has been traveling across the country-- from Seattle, WA; to Ferguson, MO; Baltimore, MD; and York, PA. The exhibit always includes community engagement and a concert and artist talk. After one-time generous support from organizations, I've funded most of the touring of this show out of pocket, including to some communities, such as Ferguson, MO, that can most urgently benefit from the conversations this show engenders.
Now I need your help in continuing to tour REWIND across the country. With your generous donation, this show can continue touring, supporting engagement and critical conversations with communities. With your help we can increase accessibility.
Proliferation - animated map of the U.S. Prison System
Why is this important?
We are at a time in which arguments about history are manifesting themselves based on false narrative and emotions. Heated discussions about heritage and pride are preceded by the words “I feel” instead of “I know”. The narrative-- about who works hard, who doesn't, and who "deserves" success and prosperity-- takes place without the acknowledgement of systemic and structural systems in place that disproportionately benefit some groups of citizens over others. This has inadvertently or in many cases intentionally been used as a tool to divide the country in a way that it has never been divided before……or has it?
Most recently, REWIND has been on exhibit at York College, PA, where the college administration chose to bar the public from viewing the show, stating that "The images, while powerful, are very provocative and potentially disturbing to some." Articles in the York Daily Record, Artnet News, Inside Higher Ed, and many more distributed widely through the Associated Press have highlighted the missed opportunity for sharing this exhibit with the wider community and generating important dialogue. As Artnet News declares, "Rucker’s work is an unequivocal condemnation of racism and white supremacy."
During a recent talk in York Pennsylvania, I asked if there were any questions. A young lady raised her hand and asked, “What is a lynching?” I proceeded to explain. I was saddened but not shocked that she was unaware of the history of lynching in the United States. Where do we learn this? Which textbooks teach us about this chapter in history? Where do we learn about lynching postcards, branding irons used on slaves, derogatory sheet music that promotes the narrative that black people are lazy, stupid, thieves? Where do we learn about books that were written to use the bible and religion as justification for slavery? Books that say black people don’t have souls, or that the Negro in his natural state, is a slave? Where does the current narrative of modern white supremacy originate?
REWIND displays the artifacts that this narrative is based on. The exhibit also includes an originally-created, 30-page newspaper with background about the pieces, so people can have fully informed conversations about US history. Not only does REWIND present these original art works and artifacts, it includes discussions, workshops, and concerts, which provide opportunities for interactive conversation between artist and audience.
Stories From The Trees - Animated Lynching Postcard
Art has the power to make visible that which too often goes unseen and unacknowledged. As a multidisciplinary artist and an activist, I am committed to making artwork that has a profound impact on viewers’ understanding-- not only aesthetic, but intellectual and emotional as well--of issues related to incarceration, racially-motivated violence, and the current and historical social and economic impacts of slavery in the U.S. Whether I am dressing life-sized mannequins in re-imagined KKK robes, shooting paper to illustrate specific cases of excessive use of force, or creating videos to highlight the rapid proliferation of U.S. prisons, my goal is to move viewers to reflect on what they know or think they know, to seek a more accurate understanding of history and current events, and to talk to one another. In the process of making work, I gather input from community members and conduct historical research; in the process of showing it, I constantly seek ways to catalyze conversations with and among audience members.
About The Artist:
Paul Rucker, a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, is a visual artist, composer, and musician who often combines media, integrating live performance, sound, original compositions, and visual art. His work is the product of a rich interactive process, through which he investigates community impacts, human rights issues, historical research, and basic human emotions surrounding particular subject matter. Much of his current work focuses on the Prison Industrial Complex and the many issues accompanying incarceration in its relationship to slavery. He has presented performances and visual art exhibitions across the country and has collaborated with educational institutions to address the issue of mass incarceration. Presentations have taken place in schools, active prisons and also inactive prisons such as Alcatraz.
Rucker has received numerous grants, awards, and residencies for visual art and music. He is a 2012 Creative Capital Awardee in visual art as well as a 2014 MAP (Multi-Arts Production) Fund Grantee for performance. In 2015 he received a prestigious Joan Mitchell Painters & Sculptors Grant as well as the Mary Sawyer Baker Award. In 2016 Paul received the Rauschenberg Artist as Activist fellowship and the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, for which he is the first artist in residence at the new National Museum of African American Culture.
When We Were Useful - Animation
Residencies include MacDowell Colony, Blue Mountain Center, Ucross Foundation, Art OMI, Banff Centre, Pilchuck Glass School, Rauschenberg Residency, Joan Mitchell Residency, Hemera Artist Retreat, Air Serembe, Creative Alliance, and the Rockefeller Foundation Study Center in Bellagio, Italy. In 2013-2015, he was the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation Artist in Residence and Research Fellow at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Paul is currently an iCubed Visiting Arts Fellow embedded at the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University.
What will your contribution support?
Installation, Travel, Storage, Maintenance, Documentation, Hotel, Food, Printing of newspaper, and payment to facilitators for community engagement support.
Time Lapse of REWIND Installation
This is a proven format. I’ve donated to projects, because I believe in the process. I feel that this is the best place to crowd source and spread the word about my project. Rewards. We have a large selection of Rewards. Yes, a KKK robe is up for grabs as a REWARD! No, it doesn’t go to you, but it does go to a museum, and it’s never allowed to be worn. The museum has to be associated with The American Alliance of Museums. Many awards will be artwork made specifically for this fundraiser. New artwork will be created and displayed during the campaign.
Or, you do NOT have to take an award. Feel free to donate. Regardless of what you give, you will be acknowledged in the next REWIND newspaper publication. The support you provide me through Kickstarter would be deeply appreciated and I’d make the best use of it to continue this work. The impact of your gift will be felt far and wide.
Thank you for your support.
Paul Rucker and REWIND Exhibition
Stories From The Trees - Part Two - Solo Cello
Stories From The Trees - Strange Fruit - Looped Cello
All The Things I Thought I Didn't Want from the CD History of An Apology
More to come......
Kickstarter Video Credit:
Greg Timmons and Nik Viener from Diemo Video
Risks and challenges
I’m not a commercial gallery artist. I’m a socially engaged artist who believes real change happens through human benefit analysis, rather than cost benefit analysis. My main source of support comes from grants, commissions and fellowships that allow me to continue to create these installations.
The support you provide me through Kickstarter would be deeply appreciated and I’d make the best use of it to continue this work.
The impact of your gift will be felt far and wide.
- (45 days)