Anchored within the overlapping contradictions of histories held within the body and those transcribed upon the body, artist Danielle Deadwyler, arts administrator Nisa Floyd, and art historian Tyra A. Seals will engage in a conversation on FOR(E)RUNNER, the inaugural artwork to be mounted in the Secret Garden project space as part of the Virtual Remains exhibition. Together, the panelists will discuss the installation, the performance, and the body as an intuitive repository for multiple forms of knowledge.

FOR(E)RUNNER is a multimedia installation that incorporates performance, video, and assemblage to intervene on the written histories of the Atlanta railway corridor by unearthing the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of the Black laborers who worked to construct it. Now commonly known as the Atlanta BeltLine, the railway corridor was completed in 1902 and has since functioned as a physical and metaphysical boundary that demarcates the core of the city. Expanding beyond traditional historical methodology, Deadwyler constructed an archive of material, movement, sight, and sound to conjure the countless Black laborers unwitnessed in the construction of the Atlanta railway corridor. Through the process of excavation, Deadwyler sought out the remaining physical evidence of their labor −the rusted nails, bolts, and anchors− to create an immersive space where the past confronts the present. Offering her body as vessel, Deadwyler enlivened the Secret Garden, and the greater campus of the Atlanta Contemporary, with a singular endurance performance that trekked 22 miles −the length of the Atlanta railway corridor. Challenging traditional forms of knowledge sharing, Deadwyler sought to reveal historical truths and trigger memory through the arduous and ecstatic movements of the laboring body − the tightness, tension, pleasure, and pain. By interrupting the passive art viewing experience, her performance cut through the galleries creating an undeniable reminder of her presence and the presence of the labor she embodied. For those unable to witness the performance, they are left to experience the installation, contending with the absence of Deadwyler’s body and any evidence left behind.

This virtual event will be streamed via Zoom.

Watching via Zoom
Viewers can watch via Zoom. Zoom participants can join in via audio, video, and text chat during the open conversation portion of the lecture. Register here for the meeting and receive a link to join when it begins. Zoom participants are capped at 100 people.

Zoom Conversation guide

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  • Start by introducing yourself with your name and pronouns.
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Danielle Deadwyler

Danielle Deadwyler is a congregation of artistic personas and firebrand talent. Her sophisticated spunk and ingenuity is reflected on stages, screens, and pages. The Atlanta native’s artistry is rooted in theatre, dance, and creative writing. Nurtured at hometown staples such as Gate City Heritage House, Total Dance Theatre, Gary Harrison Studios, Atlanta Street Theatre, Henry W. Grady High, and Spelman College, Deadwyler’s skills have been honed almost wholly amongst a distinctly Southern landscape. As a professional actor, Deadwyler has performed in productions with Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre, Horizon Theatre, Synchronicity Theatre, Theatrical Outfit, Aurora Theatre and the Tony Award winning Alliance Theatre. She is the Creative Loafing Atlanta Critics Pick for Best Actress (2013) and Reader’s Pick for Best Performance Artist (2017). 2015 found her the winning recipient of the Suzi Bass Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a play. As a budding filmmaker and producer, Deadwyler’s first short film Brummagem (2011) was listed as a semi-finalist in the first annual Creative Loafing Atlanta shorts contest. Her video, Do Not Resuscitate, was a WonderRoot Local Film night finalist (2013), while the short video for her multimedia project MuhfuckaNeva(Luvd)Uhs: Real Live Girl was the Jury award winner (2015). She also starred in and produced the American Black Film Festival 2014 HBO Shorts Official Selection Ir/Reconcilable, a short film starring Jasmine Guy, Dick Gregory and Crystal Fox. Her short film, SuPerHeRoInUh, was selected amongst ten finalists as a part of the Airport Shorts 3.0 program, coinciding with the Atlanta Film Festival 40th anniversary, to screen at Hartsfield Jackson Airport in the International Terminal for the duration of a year.
As poet and performance artist, Deadwyler is an observer/practitioner of all things hiphop culture and gender-centric. Her video/performance works have been included in MAMBU BADU collective’s exhibition If We Came From Nowhere Here, Why Can’t We Go Somewhere There? (D.C.), Mint Gallery (ATL), Whitespace Gallery (ATL), The Luminary (STL), Atlanta Film Festival, among others. She has been supported by grants from IDEA CAPITAL (2014), ELEVATE Atlanta, and was the 2016 Living Walls Inaugural Laura Calle grant winner. She is an Atlanta Film Festival Filmmaker-in-Residence and a WonderRoot Walthall Fellow.

Nisa Floyd

Nisa Floyd is an arts administrator, educator, and program development manager from Brooklyn, New York. After receiving her BA in English from Georgia State University, Nisa went on to work in the education sector where she immersed herself in program development to create social emotional curriculum for elementary students. Nisa served as the Program Coordinator at Atlanta Contemporary, where she managed the Studio Artist Program; the public programming, internal events, and outreach initiatives. Currently, Nisa is the founder and CEO of Art Makes – an educational zine with a companion art kit that is distributed across metro Atlanta to individuals of all ages. Art Makes partners include: Meals on Wheels of Atlanta, Raising Expectations, Westside Future Fund and Paint Love. Nisa received the 30 Under 30 award from the Atlanta chapter of Young Nonprofit Professionals Network in 2020.

Tyra A. Seals

Tyra A. Seals is an emerging curator of African diaspora art and Art History Ph.D. student at the University of Delaware. Her research explores the [un]official sites of origin that have transformed Black women’s artistic practices over generations and the realities that affect their ability to move, create, and live freely. She has written for various publications and entities including Art Papers, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and The Cleveland Museum of Art. Tyra is a proud Atlanta native and alumna of Spelman College, where she studied English and Art History and graduated cum laude in 2018.

TK Smith

TK Smith is a Philadelphia based writer, art critic, and curator. Smith is currently a PhD candidate in the American Civilization Program at the University of Delaware. He received his MA in American Studies and his BA in English and African American Studies from Saint Louis University. Smith’s research interests lie in American art, material culture, and the built environment. Smith most recently curated Looming Chaos at the Zuckerman Museum of Art as an inaugural Tina Dunkley Fellow at Clark Atlanta University Art Museum. The 2020 exhibition featured the fiber abstractions of Atlanta based artist Zipporah Camille Thompson. His writing has been published in Art Papers, Burnaway, and ARTS ATL.

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