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New Video: Carrie Mae Weems Commemorates Black Lives

“I’m deeply aware of the stress that’s put on our community, the stress that’s put on black women, the stress that’s put on black men. It’s not a play, it’s really this battle.” — Carrie Mae Weems

Today’s Art21 Exclusive features Carrie Mae Weems staging Grace Notes: Reflections for Now, a performance that examines the escalating racial tensions across the United States, and the role of grace in the pursuit of democracy. Although known for her work as a photographer, in Grace Notes Weems blends spoken word, music, projected video, and dance to commemorate the tragic deaths of young black men like Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin.

“The thing to me that is remarkable about our history, about who we are, about how we have conducted ourselves in the onslaught of history, is to maintain the core of our dignity,” says Weems to the show’s cast during a rehearsal. “That is really the ultimate call of grace.”

That is really the ultimate call of grace.

Grace Notes was commissioned by Spoleto Festival USA and performed in June 2016 to honor the nine churchgoers who were killed one year earlier at Emanuel AME Church, located just three blocks from the College of Charleston Sottile Theatre where Grace Notes was performed. It will be performed again at the Yale Repertory Theatre in September, as part of the No Boundaries Series.

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