Shaping the Future

© Glenn Ligon (b. 1960), Draft, Spitbite, sugarlift, and drypoint on Hahnemühle Copperplate paper, 25 1/2 x 21 in., loan courtesy Contemporary Art Resources.

“The man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting.”

Carlos Castaneda

Old Salem and MESDA have always encouraged outside scholars, students, collectors, makers, and artists to engage with our collection. These engagements help us see our collections in new and different ways. House Party: R.S.V.P. B.Y.O.B. is just the latest iteration of that work. Mr. Bramwell, as both an artist and a scholar, brings a particularly valuable perspective to this work of finding ongoing relevance in old things.

Take, for example, the juxtaposition of a silver tea service marked by Charleston, South Carolina, Silversmith John Ewan with Todd Johnson’swork Demitubo. The fractured geometry of Johnson’s work is itselffractured against the reflective ornament of the silver. Together, theyencourage us to rethink the nature of trade embodied in the silverservice, its intended contents, and Johnson’s unfillable cup. Thejuxtaposition encourages us to think about our own modern systems of production and consumption and the role they play in creating and sustaining global inequalities.

This installation reflects Old Salem and MESDA’s ongoing commitment to telling a complete and honest history of Salem and the early South through new and innovative ways including our Hidden Town, Study South, Equity, and Art Out of Bounds initiatives.