There is a brutality in master narratives, but they can also be redemptive. Inspired by Kerry James Marshall’s solo retrospective, Mastry, this performance will involve recitations of references to mastery as they play out in a variety of popular culture, religious, academic, and emotional contexts. The references will include, but are not limited to, “Master’s” of Fine Arts programs, Zen masters, the musician Prince retrieving his master tapes from Warner Brothers, Oprah’s Master Classes, the slave Massa, Hegel’s master-slave dialectic, and personal mastery as exemplified by self-help gurus such as Judy Smith, the inspiration behind the TV show Scandal. Ever the champion of black women and girls, RMB will encourage reframing of the term mastery from an intersectional perspective, highlighting world-record holders such the four-year-old Mensa member from New Orleans, Anala Beevers, to the 79-year-old bodybuilder, Ernestine Shepherd. The performance takes its name from psychology scholar Ellen Winner’s theory that all great artists show a “rage to master” art at a young age and will end with a grand gesture of destroying a body of work relating to RMB’s childhood as a prodigy.
This program is FREE with museum admission, and all Tuesdays are free for residents of Illinois