The CU Denver Experience Gallery opened a new exhibition on Sunday, May 15, 2022. At the Still Point of the Turning of the World: Black in America captures the responses of several artists to the tension between living with the status quo and imagining new futures. The exhibition is composed of four distinct projects with touch points to the world-renowned pianist Awadagin Pratt.
Despite being an incredibly talented and decorated musician, Pratt’s experience as an American has not been free from the racial prejudices that continue to define the country. In October 2021, Pratt performed Awadagin Pratt: Black in America at the King Center Concert Hall. Pratt’s performance chronicles his life from the time he was a music student in Baltimore through his ascent to international acclaim and is carried by graphic accounts of being stopped by police for driving while black.
Pratt’s latest project is a forthcoming album titled StillPoint (New Amsterdam Records, 2023), produced by the College of Arts & Media’s Associate Dean for Faculty and Student Affairs, Mark Rabideau. Inspired by T.S. Eliot’s poem Burnt Norton, Pratt and Rabideau engaged seven acclaimed composers to create new works for Pratt (piano), twice Grammy-nominated string orchestra A Far Cry, and the two-time Grammy-winning vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth.
CU Denver digital design students took up the challenge of putting images to the music composed for the album, creating moving graphics for each of the songs. Their work is displayed on screens at the entrance of the gallery.
When Pratt came to CAM in October, CAM’s digital design Professor and Visual Arts Chair, Michelle Carpenter, captured an interview with him which she produced into a documentary. The documentary shares what it is like to be a person of color in the United States and confronts issues of privilege and racism in America. This documentary is featured on a large screen near the entrance to the gallery.
Finally, visitors can also experience Pratt’s October performance with the help of a VR space located toward the rear of the gallery.