Photo by Mary Ellen Strom

Mary Ellen Strom and Danielle Abrams

Spring 2021 Public Artist Residents

Artist Statement

Danielle Abrams’ performances arise from the social tides that shape her mixed race and queer identities.  She adopts personae that animate the dualistic relationships between racial and ethnic groups. Her work stages interactive encounters, and by using plays, puppetry, and monologues, she reimagines the narratives of art history, civil rights, segregation, and popular culture. By rearranging time periods and juxtaposing clans, Abrams’ performances build a radical social vision.  Intimate dialogues, homespun lore, and sassare Abrams’ syntax, which liberate the scripts of the past.  Abrams has performed and exhibited at the ICA Boston; Detroit Institute of the Arts; Bronx Museum of the Arts; The Jewish Museum, NY; Queens Museum; Grand Central Art Center; and at other performance spaces and galleries. She has received support from The New York Foundation of the Arts, Urban Arts Initiative, the Franklin Furnace Performance Art Fund, and was recipient of the Distinguished Artist Award from the St. Botolph Club Foundation. Abrams is a Visiting Scholar at the Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies at the University of New Orleans.

Mary Ellen Strom’s installations and site projects focus on social and environmental justice. Projects have been exhibited in contexts including museums, galleries, passenger trains, large-scale video projections onto industrial sites and mountain rock faces, in empty retail stores, cattle ranches, rivers and horse arenas. Strom is co-founder of Mountain Time Arts in MT. MTA received Art Place America grant, 2017-19 to produce 29 public artworks about drought. Strom’s awards include: International Fulbright Scholar, NEA Grant-Arts Projects, MAP Fund, Artadia Fund, VIA Fund, Art Matters, Creative Capital.Exhibitions include MOCA, LA; MoMA, NYC; ICA Philadelphia; CAM, Houston; MFA, Boston; Walker Art Center, Mpls.; Wexner Center,OH; Pompidou Centre-Metz, Paris; Satouchi Trienniale, Japan; Hayward Gallery, London; Nagoya MFA, Japan; Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Australia.

Building on LINCOLN GAVE US A BEACH, Abrams and Strom plan a performance that is modular with inter-textual media.  Rights Along the Shore will be conceived and produced with residents of Mashpee, Hyannis, Martha’s Vineyard, local politicians, beachfront owners, lawyers, environmentalists and tourists.  Abrams and Strom will conduct their research and practice afield and in the studio, and propose to exhibit their performance and video installation at the Mills Gallery.  They would also like to host a public panel discussion at the Mills on the subject of recreational segregation.

Abrams and Strom’s research will examine how Massachusetts controls beachfront segregation through private ownership.  Massachusetts’ unique set of laws gives coastal property owners extensive private rights to beachfront areas. In contrast, most coastal states provide unlimited public access to beach fronts. The origin of these laws date back to the Colonial Ordinances of 1641-47. The Massachusetts Bay Colony conveyed rights of ownership to the area between the mean high water mark and the low water mark.