Sam Durant: The Meeting House | Opens August 2016

Sam Durant: The Meeting House | Opens August 2016

The Meeting House, by renowned multimedia artist Sam Durant, will be open to the public on August 5th at The Old Manse in Concord, a National Historic Landmark in Massachusetts, through October 2016. The site-specific, participatory installation is part of a two-year outdoor art initiative—Art and The Landscape—presented by The Trustees and curated by guest curator Pedro Alonzo.
Sam Durant: The Meeting House | Opens August 2016
Constructed on the North Field of The Trustees’ Old Manse property, Durant’s project refers directly to the historical site through a structure based on the houses of the first emancipated African men and women in Concord. The pavilion features an open, transparent framework that is designed to function as a platform for the public to share and explore history, artwork, and issues of race, while reactivating The Old Manse as a setting for critical discussions.

The Meeting House focuses on the African presence in colonial and post-revolutionary Concord and seeks to make the connection between our difficult past, slavery and segregation, and the fact that we are still today unable to create the just society that our revolution promised.

Beginning in August and running through October, The Meeting House will feature a series of public programs through which visitors may gain a deeper understanding of the background and challenges of African Americans in the region and explore and discuss many of the same issues faced today. When not in use for public programs, the pavilion welcomes Old Manse and the Minuteman Historical Park visitors to engage in contemplation and discussion through interpretive information built into the structure.

Another aspect of the project takes place inside the Old Manse itself. This interior exhibition, curated by Durant, is comprised of replicated post-colonial African artifacts as well as a reinterpretation of existing pieces through the lens of the enslaved people who may have impacted them. Items displayed include a manuscript written by Phillis Wheatley, the first published African American female poet; a warning poster from April 1851 directed at freed slaves; a slave ship plan view from Boston’s Museum of African American History; a pamphlet from the Concord Anti-Slavery Society, and more.

Programming will begin in August and includes workshops, readings, and discussions focused on African American writing, philosophy, music, food, and spirituality. Four core events—or “Lyceums”—in the spirit of 19th century gatherings, will enable dialogue about the issues in question. For a complete list of upcoming programs, please visit

Saturday, August 13: 12PM-2PM
The Picnic: Food on the table brings families and communities together. This event, in partnership with Haley House, deals with food culture as a means to start a willing dialogue of healing.Saturday, September 24 2PM-4PM
Poetry Reading: A select group of leading poets will be invited to compose new work specifically for a reading at The Meeting House. Featuring: Kevin Young, Danielle Legros Georges and Robin Coste-Lewis.

Saturday, October 15 2PM-4PM
A New Framework for Dialogue: While explicitly racist policies and structures have been dismantled, systemic forms of racism and inequality remain. A panel discussion will be moderated by Tim Phillips and Beyond Conflict and will include artist Sam Durant. Panelists include Ebrahim Rasool, former South African Ambassador to the US, Penny Outlaw of the Royall House & Slave Quarters, and Adam Foss, Assistant District Attorney.

Sunday, October 16 2PM-4PM
The Artist Listens: In the spirit of a town hall meeting, the public is invited to share their thoughts about The Meeting House. The artist and curator will be present for the discussion to listen and respond. This will be moderated by Mary Jane Jacob.

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Sam Durant is a multimedia artist whose work takes a critical view of our social, political and cultural tropes and icons. Often referencing American history, his work explores the varying relationships between culture and politics, engaging subjects as diverse as the civil rights movement, southern rock music, and modernism. His work has been widely exhibited internationally and in the United States.ABOUT THE OLD MANSE: Although Durant has often referenced American history in his work, he has never been granted access to a historical site of such prominence as the Old Manse, a National Historic Landmark built in 1770 that served as the center of Concord’s political, literary, and social revolutions in the mid-19th Century. Leading Transcendentalists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller discussed the issues of the day within its walls and author Nathaniel Hawthorne lived and wrote there for a time with his new wife Sophia. The Old Manse is located next to the Old North Bridge and Minuteman National Historical Park in Concord, where the first revolutionary battle was fought and draws two million combined visitors each year.

As part of its yearlong 125th Anniversary celebration, The Trustees, Massachusetts’ largest conservation and preservation nonprofit, is featuring a multi-year, site-specific outdoor art initiative entitled Art and The Landscape. With the help of independent curator Pedro Alonzo, the new initiative is designed to present compelling contemporary art in a public landscape to create inspirational and meditative experiences for visitors at some of its most iconic and historic properties. The Meeting House, by renowned multimedia artist Sam Durant, is on display at The Old Manse in Concord, a National Historic Landmark, through October 2016. A site-specific installation, A New End, by Jeppe Hein, will be on view at World’s End in Hingham starting in August 2016.

ABOUT THE TRUSTEES: Many of The Trustees’ statewide scenic, cultural, and historic properties have served as a dynamic inspiration for artists, thought leaders, and innovators throughout the organization’s 125-year history. Today, Trustees historic homesteads and gardens, farms, woodlands, beaches and trails are popular recreational and cultural destinations visited by more than 1.6 million people in 2015. The Trustees’ Art and The Landscape initiative is also part of a year-long celebration of The Trustees 125th Anniversarywhich will create new opportunities for visitors to explore and experience the organization’s landscapes and landmarks, some of the most important and iconic in Massachusetts.

If the installation inspires questions or comments for the artist, you can leave a message for Sam Durant via the phone numbers posted around the property: 857-244-0651.

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