Visitor Voices: Congregation

Rocquel Erman, a Chatham County teacher reflects on Ledelle Moe’s Congregation:

ledelle-moe-installationThis summer while attending a workshop entitled The Art of Collaboration at the North Carolina Museum of Art, I wandered over to a bench, sat down, and quickly became mesmerized by two women that appeared to work at the museum. One was dressed casually and comfortably. She stood on a ladder drilling holes straight into the wall wherein she stuck a metal rod attached to a concrete head. The other, dressed more professionally, stood next to a cardboard box–a box filled with faces she’d randomly pull out and hand to the other woman.

As I watched a piece of art unfold, I began asking myself questions. I wondered if these two women had a plan or a grid. I wondered how heavy the faces were since they didn’t seem to be supported by drywall anchors. I wondered who the artist was and what the piece meant to him. Before long, I felt compelled to ask these questions of the installers, and to my surprise, I learned that the woman on the ladder, a young, beautiful woman with a South African accent, was the artist herself. It was like meeting Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, and I was left speechless.

The next day, while standing in front of Congregation and thinking about its story, I noticed a young woman not far from me doing the same. “Excuse me,” I said nervously, “But are you the artist I met yesterday?” The twenty minute conversation that ensued was engaging, inspiring, and monumental in my eyes. Others gathered to listen, but I, transformed by an artist, hung on her every word. In that dialogue, I learned a little bit about her story: how she created the piece. What inspired her. What she valued. What surprised her. I learned how my interpretation was part of her story. The faces speak a story. The title speaks a story.

The story continued as Rocquel introduced Ledelle Moe’s work to her 8th grade students; she offered the artwork as a metaphor for the stories they create as individuals and as a “congregation”.

Ledelle Moe’s Congregation is currently on view in the Modern Gallery.

One Comment

  1. Kinsey Katchka
    Posted January 25, 2009 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    As the ‘more professionally dressed woman’ mentioned in Rocquel’s thoughtful reflection on Ledelle Moe’s Congregation, I can’t say how happy I was to read this!

    I have known Ledelle for quite some time now and believe her work is miraculous not only in its form, but in its ability to engage people, and to inspire viewers own thoughts about and associations with the work.

    As a curator, this touches me profoundly. Your words provide rare affirmation that the work that I do–for example, bringing artists such as Ledelle to the NCMA–is worthwhile and valued, and the steps I take are in keeping with others I may never meet face to face.

    Plus, your reflections make me appreciate the work in a new way–there is always something new to see and to learn from fantastic works of art. In fact, people often ask how you can tell if something is ‘good’ art–for me that’s a defining factor. ~kk

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