Contemporary Arts Center
Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center
for Contemporary Art
44 E. 6th Street,
Cincinnati, OH 45202

513 345 8400


May 18, 2020: For the first time in weeks I made my way to Findlay Market yesterday with my five-year-old daughter, equipped with masks, hand sanitizer, and with awkwardly conflicting emotions of excitement and nervousness.

Looking Around

Findlay Market had been a weekend ritual for us, not only to get produce, but to enjoy our city, flow in the energy of other people, and to simply be. My gregarious, independent daughter held on to my hand and with a somber expression, looked around at the masks--she was also wearing one and shyly whispered, “It feels like Halloween.”

The pandemic has introduced a new risk, a new fear into our lives and it is up to all of us, individually and as communities to weigh what calculated risk we are willing to take to move beyond our homes and to once again cherish what we missed so much during these past weeks.

Looking Back

In September 2017, the CAC hosted the powerful performance Corbeaux (Crows) by Moroccan choreographer Bouchra Ouizguen. Performed at three different locations across two days, I experienced this incredible work on a peaceful Saturday evening under the farm stand at Findlay Market. It would poignantly resonate with the contradictory emotions we have all wrestled with recently.

Twenty black-clothed women with bright white head-scarves emerged from the surrounding buildings. In performance, from the beginning to the very end, they emitted piercing cries amidst a deep, trance-like call and response, physically jerking their heads in repetitive chant. The ecstatic howls and increasing intensity of the thrown-back movement of their heads was countered by their fluidly moving bodies, each woman enacting an expressive dance of their own while giving themselves over to the formation of a choreography.

The crow as a symbol has embodied divergent meanings over centuries, cultures and geographies from a symbol of death, mystery, and transformation. Today, standing in the same space Bouchra’s work occupied three years ago, Corbeaux’s physically vigorous meditation on the subtle differences of individual voices and bodies in sameness takes on a deeper, more existential meaning.

Looking Within

Meditation of a very different kind is offered to us in Martin Puryear’s minimal, handcrafted sculptures and works on paper, which the CAC presented in 1999 in
Drawing into Sculpture.

One of the most prominent and influential artists alive today, Puryear works primarily with natural materials—wood, rock, and various metals—to create sculptures that demonstrate an unwavering commitment to traditional manual skill and simplicity of form. It is only after much reflection, introspection and meditation on the materials at hand, that the forms so eloquently convey a deeply poetic mood, meaning, and gravity. Their quiet, reductive power speaks of pain and suffering, dreams and beauty, reminding us that going inside ourselves might uncover deeper insights and complexities than moving about.

Looking Ahead

So, while we are eager to reclaim our lives as we know them, perhaps all this time spent at home with ourselves has provided us with the magic key to an internal world we only discover by going nowhere. And, perhaps the next time we have the great opportunity to see one of Martin Puryear’s sculptures in a museum, we may take ample time to take it in, to truly see its form from all sides until it reveals, slowly, some of the visual poetry encapsulated in its shape and materials.

All my best -- Raphaela

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