NEW PERFORMANCE SERIES EXPLORES CULTURE AND DIVERSITY

Museum to collaborate with local arts organizations to bring Grammy Award-winning and world-renowned acts to Wilmington. 

WILMINGTON, DE (January 5, 2018) — The Delaware Art Museum is thrilled to announce a new 2018 Performance Series featuring a lineup of cutting-edge, multidisciplinary performances by regional, national, and international artists. Launching in February 2018, this series will present contemporary dance, music, spoken word, and theater performances that will address critical issues affecting the community and push the boundaries of innovation and experimentation in the performing arts. Join us on Thursday, January 25 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for an exclusive preview event to learn more about the new performance series. Performances will be presented at the Museum and offsite at partnering organizations.

“This Performance Series creates new opportunities for discussion and conversations between people who otherwise may not come into contact with each other,” explains Jonathan Whitney, Manager of Performance Programs & Community Engagement at the Delaware Art Museum. “Through performance, we are responding in real time to what’s happening today in our city, our region, and our nation. Performance provides opportunities for thoughtful introspection.”

In its inaugural year, performance programming will deepen the Museum’s community engagement by presenting contemporary performances germane to civil rights and social justice history. Additionally, some of the performances will be presented offsite at performing arts organizations throughout the community. In the spring, the Museum and the Grand Opera House will co-present The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence by nationally renowned dance company Step Afrika!. For this performance, Step Afrika! uses body percussion and dance to create a lively visual interpretation of painter Jacob Lawrence’s iconic The Migration Series, a series of paintings that depict The Great Migration of African Americans from the rural south in the early 1900s. School and public performances will take place at The Grand Opera House. In the summer, spoken word and contemporary movement artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph will perform /peh-LO-tah/ — an explosive, groundbreaking hip-hop performance inspired by his memories of playing soccer as a child of Haitian immigrants and his travels to World Cups in South Africa and Brazil. In November, Bessie Award-winner Okwui Okpokwasili’s Poor People’s TV Room will consider the Nigerian histories of the Women’s War of 1929 and the 2014 kidnapping of nearly 300 girls by Boko Haram.

“The Museum is becoming more civically engaged,” says Sam Sweet, Delaware Art Museum’s Executive Director and CEO. “Some may wonder ‘Why would you bring in artists if you’re going to be presenting them somewhere else? How does that come back to the museum?’ I like the idea of partnering with other groups and getting these artists into neighborhoods because it brings art and our mission beyond the Museum’s walls and into communities where there is opportunity to connect people to art and create new audiences. It will be up to us to get the audiences to see these artists in the venues that are closer to where they live, but also create opportunities for them to come back to the Museum and see what else is happening here.”

Building on a long tradition of presenting performance programs and a renewed commitment to deepening engagement efforts, this series will generate opportunities for community connection, education, and civil discourse. In addition to hosting a public performance of Step Afrika!’s The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence, the Museum is partnering with Christina Cultural Arts Center and Delaware Institute for the Arts in Education to make curriculum connections and bring three-day creativity workshops to local elementary and middle schools.  For Joseph’s /peh-LO-tah/, the Museum will partner with Joseph and the Future Soccer Stars Foundation to host a community engagement companion program called Moving and Passing, which uses soccer drills as instruction for dancing. The program ultimately leads to discussions of the immigrant experience in America and issues facing black and brown youth.

“We encourage students to have a more in-depth art experience. So instead of just going to see a show, we send our teaching artists into their schools to partner with teachers, and we work with them over three days to participate in art making and art creating, and through that experience develop a deeper understanding of the work they’re going to experience,” says Ashley SK Davis, Artistic Director for the Delaware Institute for the Arts in Education, and Executive and Artistic Director for Pieces of a Dream, Inc. Following the teaching artists, a performance artist will meet with these same students and teach them how to create a step dance similar to what they will see in Step Afrika! “We want to encourage this kind of creativity.”

This first year of events will also include presenters at the Museum who are pushing the boundaries of their respective disciplines. In March, the Museum will present four-time Grammy Award-winning Eighth Blackbird. According to Chicago Tribune, Eight Blackbird is “one of the smartest, most dynamic contemporary classical ensembles on the planet.” Delaware’s own Pyxis Piano Quartet will continue their 9th season through this winter and spring and will return for a 10th season of concerts in the Museum’s galleries. In September, the site-based dance performance, REPLICA, by choreographer and media artist, Jonah Bokaer, will be presented in the Copeland Sculpture Garden. Blue Note recording artist Kendrick Scott Oracle will perform at the Museum on Thursday, February 8 and Philadelphia-based jazz ensemble Norman David and The Eleventet are performing on Thursday, May 17. Additionally, the Museum is commissioning local and regional artists to respond to the impact of the 1968 occupation of the City of Wilmington by the National Guard.

“The idea is for the Museum to be a ‘town commons’ where the whole population can come together for a shared experience with art, regardless of their backgrounds. Whether it’s an artistic performance, a concert, or a performance about a challenging topic, the Museum serves as a platform for people to share their thoughts and engage in conversation together,” explains Sweet.

2018 Performances

Pyxis Piano Quartet
Dates: Thursday, January 18, at 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, April 19 at 8:00 p.m.; 2018-’19 season TBA
Location: Delaware Art Museum

Pyxis has been heard along the East Coast in concerts from Virginia to Pennsylvania. The ensemble’s performances have become a highlight of the Delaware arts scene, and this year they are in their 9th season as ensemble-in-residence at the Delaware Art Museum. Pyxis Piano Quartet was founded in 2009 to perform chamber music concerts that include works from the sonata, duo, and trio repertoire as well as traditional and contemporary masterpieces for piano quartet. Compelling, engaging, and informative, their vibrant performances have become increasingly sought after in the mid-Atlantic region. The Philadelphia Inquirer has described Pyxis as “excellent,” and Christine Facciolo (deartsinfo.com) stated in a recent review that “balance, ensemble, superb intonation and sensitive interpretation characterized this performance.” To begin the 2017-2018 season, the ensemble performed and coached sectionals at the Delaware Orchestral and Chamber Music Institute (with guest artist Arkansas Symphony co-concertmaster Andrew Irvin). This season also includes return performances as resident performers at First and Central Presbyterian Church (Wilmington, Delaware) in Market Street Music’s Festival Concert series and in the “Celebrate the Arts Series” at Doylestown (Pennsylvania) Presbyterian Church.

Kendrick Scott Oracle
Date: Thursday, February 8 at 8 p.m.
Location: Delaware Art Museum

In February, the Delaware Art Museum will present Blue Note recording artist Kendrick Scott’s band Kendrick Scott Oracle. “Kendrick Scott has become the Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, and Tony Williams of his generation,” says the renowned trumpeter and bandleader Terence Blanchard. “He’s a brilliant mind bringing innovation to the music at the same time as creating a safe place for young talent to develop and grow.” Regarding Kendrick Scott Oracle, Scott says, “In an attempt to find a title that represented my vision, I came across the word ‘oracle.’ Its definition draws attention to an individual, but I see the word in the context of the band as an entity pushing the audience to ask deeper questions about one’s meaning. Accordingly, our music is played with passion and sincerity. In every note, written and unwritten, the listener is exposed to an array of complex emotions, emotions that lead to a broader truth through the journey of self-discovery. We hope the music can call some people to action. Others to inaction. These are the kinds of personal reactions the music was written and played to evoke. The name, Kendrick Scott Oracle (KSO), possesses a mythical tinge, but its meaning is actual.”

Eighth Blackbird
Date: Saturday, March 10 at 8 p.m.
Location: Delaware Art Museum

In March, the Delaware Art Museum will present the four-time Grammy Award-winning contemporary music group Eighth Blackbird. According to Chicago Tribune, Eight Blackbird is “one of the smartest, most dynamic contemporary classical ensembles on the planet.” Eighth Blackbird is choosing repertoire for the performance based around the Museum’s collection and the Eye on Nature: Andrew Wyeth and John Ruskin exhibition opening that weekend. Along with their Saturday evening performance, they will perform pop-up performances at the members opening of Eye on Nature Friday evening. Launched by six entrepreneurial Oberlin Conservatory undergraduates in 1996, this Chicago-based super-group has earned its status as “a brand-name…defined by adventure, vibrancy and quality…known for performing from memory, employing choreography and collaborations with theater artists, lighting designers and even puppetry artists,” according to The Detroit Free Press.

Step Afrika!
Dates: Public Performance: Friday, April 13 at 8 p.m.; School Performances: Thursday, April 12 and Friday, April 13 at 10:30 a.m.
Location: The Grand Opera House

In April, the Delaware Art Museum will partner with the Grand Opera House, Delaware State University, Christina Cultural Arts Center, and the Delaware Institute for the Arts in Education for The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence, a performance by Step Afrika!. Founded in 1994, Step Afrika! is the world’s first professional company dedicated to stepping where dancers create extraordinary performances using their bodies as instruments. Step Afrika! uses body percussion and dance to create a lively visual interpretation of painter Jacob Lawrence’s iconic The Migration Series. Lawrence’s paintings depict the Great Migration of African Americans from the rural south to cities in the North, Midwest, and West between World War I and World War II. In addition to the shows at The Grand Opera House, art and dancing workshops will be held at Kuumba Academy Charter School, First State Montessori, Great Oaks Charter, William C. Lewis Dual Language Elementary, Mote Elementary, North Star Elementary, Stanton Middle, and Warner Elementary.

Norman David and The Eleventet
Date: Thursday, May 17 at 8 p.m.
Location: Delaware Art Museum

Their website proclaims: “We WILL blow your faces off!” Unique and high-energy jazz ensemble led by musician and composer Norman David, The Eleventet produces breathtaking ensembles where arrangements propel the listener down unexpected paths and through surprising twists and turns. Beginning in the early 1980s, David led versions of the Eleventet in Boston, central Maine, and New York City. In 2000, David assembled and debuted the first Philadelphia version of The Eleventet. By mid-2007, he finalized a permanent line-up of the city’s prominent jazz artists. The Eleventet is featured exclusively throughout the year at Plays and Players Theater, one of Philadelphia’s venerable venues for the creative arts.

Marc Bamuthi Joseph
Dates: TBA; time TBA
Location: TBA

Over the summer, the Delaware Art Museum will host Marc Bamuthi Joseph for /peh-LO-tah/. Joseph is acclaimed for his groundbreaking productions that combine spoken word and contemporary movement in an experimental theatrical form based on hip-hop aesthetics. His new multimedia performance work /peh-LO-tah/ links art and sports to notions of camaraderie, pride, and tradition. Inspired by Joseph’s memories of playing soccer as a child of Haitian immigrants and his travels to World Cups in South Africa and Brazil, and his explosive hip-hop style. “Marc Bamuthi Joseph belongs to a rare breed of artists who can kindle political and cultural awareness while delivering a highly entertaining performance,” writes the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Museum is partnering with the Future Soccer Stars Foundation to present /pe-LO-tah/’s companion program Moving and Passing, which uses soccer drills as instruction for dancing. The program ultimately leads to discussions of the immigrant experience in America and issues facing black and brown youth. The workshop will be presented at Future Soccer Stars Foundation’s City on the Pitch event.

Jonah Bokaer
Date: Saturday, September 8; time TBA
Location: Delaware Art Museum Copeland Sculpture Garden

In September, the Delaware Art Museum will present Jonah Bokaer’s 2009 performance, REPLICA, in the Copeland Sculpture Garden. An engaging, multidisciplinary collaborative performance piece by Daniel Arsham, Jonah Bokaer, and Judith Sanchez Ruiz, REPLICA employs built spaces, objects, lighting, and other media to create the illusion of an expanded space through the use of video and still images. The performance creates situations onstage that could not exist in physical space. Bokaer completed a dual degree in visual and media arts at the New School in New York City while simultaneously dancing with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

Okwui Okpokwasili
Date: TBA
Location: TBA

In November, the Delaware Art Museum will present Okwui Okpokwasili’s Poor People’s TV Room, which explores the cultural amnesia around the historical collective action of African women and builds a narrative around the impact of that erasure. It is informed by two historical incidents in Nigeria: The Women’s War of 1929, a resistance movement against British colonial powers; and the Boko Haram kidnappings of more than 300 girls, which launched the Bring Back Our Girls movement. Women have been central to these campaigns, and they have played essential and powerful roles in Nigeria’s independence. “Ruthlessly clean and clever,” writes Helen Shaw in Time Out NY of Poor People’s TV Room. The Museum is partnering once again with the Delaware Institute of Arts in Education, Cab Calloway School of the Arts, Pieces of a Dream, Inc., and other local dance companies to present workshops with Okpokwasili the week prior to her performance.

About the 2018 Performance Series

The Delaware Art Museum’s Performance Series features bold, adventurous works from a variety of art forms. With a focus on social justice and cutting edge creative performance, this series brings artists who are pushing creative boundaries and responding to present day events in innovative ways to Delaware. Performances will take place on the Museum’s campus and out in the community.

The performance series will expand the Museum’s commitment to presenting the performing arts as a complement to the Museum’s rich exhibition programs. The series will also serve as a platform for community connection and civil discourse. Aligned with the Museum’s core mission to connect people to art, a rich program of dance, music, theater, and interdisciplinary works will empower audiences around critical issues affecting Wilmington’s and the region’s citizens such as social justice and equity. Utilizing the Museum’s unique and dynamic campus and collection as well as offsite locations throughout Wilmington, the series will also champion the newest experimentations in the field, sustaining and inspiring contemporary performing and visual arts practitioners and supporters throughout the Mid-Atlantic.

Partners

The Grand Opera House
Christina Cultural Arts Center
Delaware Institute for the Arts in Education
Future Soccer Stars Foundation
Delaware State University
Pieces of a Dream, Inc.
Cab Calloway School of the Arts
Delaware Theatre Company

About Performing Arts at the Delaware Art Museum

Over 100 years, the Delaware Art Museum has presented dance, music, and theater to expand its collection-based program and showcase the rich diversity of the performing arts for the greater Wilmington community. In the 1960s, a committee dedicated to presenting modern dance hosted choreographers from Spain and Venezuela, and the newly formed Dance Theatre of Harlem performed at the Museum in 1971. More recently, choreographers, such as Debra Loewen, have been invited to create new work that engages with the unique building and Copeland Sculpture Garden. In 2014, Philadelphia and New York-based Melissa Diane and Jaamil Olawale Kosoko were invited as a live component to the temporary exhibition, Performance Now. Since 2008, Concerts on Kentmere has presented inaugural performances by the Pyxis Piano Quartet, and My America, My Journey shared the stories of migrants in Delaware through a powerful storytelling experience in 2016

About the Delaware Art Museum

Founded in 1912, the Delaware Art Museum is recognized for its cornerstone collection of works by celebrated American artist and illustrator Howard Pyle, a Wilmington native, complemented by hundreds of works by some of most talented illustrators.

Also renowned for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the largest and most significant Pre-Raphaelite collection outside of the United Kingdom, assembled by Samuel Bancroft, Jr., a Wilmington textile mill owner with a taste for Dante Gabriel Rossetti and other contemporaries of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

The Museum is famous for the preeminent collection of urban landscapes by American painter John Sloan and his circle. The Sloan collection lives alongside an esteemed survey of American art-spanning more than 200 years-from early 19th century through the present, including masterworks by Raphaelle Peale, Frederic Church, Thomas Eakins, Edward Hopper, Robert Motherwell, and Dale Chihuly. Visitors also enjoy the outdoor Copeland Sculpture Garden, featuring large-scale works by Tom Otterness and George Rickey.

For more than 100 years, the Museum has occupied a vibrant place in the life of the Brandywine Valley. More than a collection of beautiful objects, the Museum is a vital source of experiences and discoveries for visitors from around the world.

The Delaware Art Museum is at 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806. Wednesday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Thursday: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., and Friday – Sunday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday and Tuesday: Closed. Adults (19-59) $12, Seniors (60+) $10, Students (with valid ID) $6, Youth (7-18) $6, and Children (6 and under) free. Admission fees are waived Thursdays 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. and Sundays 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. thanks to support from generous individuals. For more information, call 302-571-9590 or 866-232-3714 (toll free), or visit delart.org.

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