Kerry James Marshall lands Wexner Residency

Kerry James Marshall, <i>RHYTHM MASTR</i>, preparatory drawing, 1999-2000. Courtesy the artist.

The Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus OH, just announced their 2007-08 Residency Awards, and Season 1 featured artist Kerry James Marshall is the recipient of the visual arts prize.

For his Residency Award project, Marshall will engage a group of local teens this fall and winter to help bring his vision—which involves performance, sculpture, puppetry, and more—to fruition.

The focus of the work is Marshall’s expansive narrative, Rythm Mastr (preliminary drawings of which were featured in his Season 1 segment), a story of love, vengeance, and redemption in the inner city, featuring African-American superheroes based on traditional African sculpture and stories, and realized in comic strip form. For his Wexner project, he will bring Rythm Mastr to life.

To achieve this, Marshall is currently creating large-scale puppets in the Japanese tradition of Bunraku, and he visits Japan this summer to observe and learn the ancient craft. In late September, Marshall will select 20 teenagers from the Columbus community to be trained as puppeteers and to rehearse and perform Rythm Mastr, which will be staged at the Wexner in February. Students can check out the application and details here. From February 2 through April 13, the puppets will be displayed in the Wexner Center gallery as sculpture, alongside drawings and video documentation of the live performance, in the exhibition Kerry James Marshall: Every Beat of My Heart.

A recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, Marshall currently has work on view at Documenta 12 in Kassel, Germany. He lives and works in Chicago.

On a related note, the Wexner will be hosting a sneak preview screening of Art in the Twenty-First Century Season 4 episode Ecology on October 9, from 7-9 p.m. Ecology features former Wexner Residence Award winner, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Mark Dion (another friend of the Wexner Center), Robert Adams and Ursula von Rydingsvard. The screening will be followed by informal small-group discussions of the program, led by Wexner Education staff members.