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Indepth Arts News:

"Soles of the Movement: A Site-Specific Installation by Chris Burns"
2006-04-18 until 2006-05-17
Shenkman Gallery
White Plains, NY, USA United States of America

Westchester Arts Council’s Shenkman Gallery, local artist Chris Burns will present Soles of the Movement, a multi media project that aims to bring African Americans’ struggle for civil rights out of abstraction and into the immediate world of the viewer. Soles of the Movement opens April 18th and closes May 17th. The Shenkman Gallery is located on the second floor of the Arts Exchange building.

Soles of the Movement, which has been funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, uses historical music, photographs, film footage and memorabilia, especially shoes, to create and support the environment. The piece commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Civil Rights Movement. “I chose shoes as a symbol of the relentless and undying spirit of the African American community as it marched in a quest for social justice,” replies Mr. Burns, “Collectively our shoes symbolize these themes and bear witness that the movement continues.” 

For the past three years, family, friends and others of Chris Burns’ have contributed old shoes that became the canvas to re-tell the story of this significant movement for social change. Using shoes as symbols for heroic individual and collective journeys began with a piece about the Underground Railroad. In Soles of the Movement, shoes become poignant referents for transformative events in the civil rights movement. “I dedicate Soles of the Movement to those African-Americans who ran and were not weary and walked but did not become faint,” says Mr. Burns.

Chris Burns graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He has studied at the University of Paris, Sorbonne, in New York City at the Arts Students League and the International Center of Photography. Mr. Burns recently completed a teaching fellowship and received his masters in elementary education at Mercy College. In 1997 Chris was chosen to participate in the Bronx Museum’s Program for emerging artists AIM and in 2005 he was chosen for the Emerge program for emerging contemporary artists at the Aljira center for contemporary Art in Newark, New Jersey.  Chris Burns has exhibited in both Westchester and New York City venues including the Bronx Museum.

Burns’ work is one of two site-specific installations commissioned thanks to a $25,000 grant the Westchester Arts Council received from the National Endowment for the Arts. The other, Stomu Miyazaki’s Wall 1435, is an installation constructed from 1435 of the original bank deposit boxes once housed in The People’s National Bank & Trust Company building, now home to the Westchester Arts Council’s Arts Exchange. The idea for Wall 1435 came to Mr. Miyazaki as he was touring the building and discovered a pile of safety deposit boxes from the original bank discarded in the basement. He viewed these safety deposit boxes as the perfect metaphor for his project because each box, at one time, safely held people’s memories and valuables. This installation will be on view through April 1.

Westchester Arts Council, founded in 1965, is the largest, private, not-for-profit arts council in New York State. Its mission is to provide leadership, vision, and support to ensure the availability, accessibility, and diversity of the arts. In 1998, the Arts Council purchased 31 Mamaroneck Avenue, now known as the Arts Exchange, and has since developed the building as a multi-use resource for artists, cultural organizations, and the community.

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