Adam McKinney Unfolds History

Portrait of the artist dressed as Fred Rouse, 2019, tintype photograph, Courtesy of the artist; Adam W. McKinney

McKinney created Unfolding History (August 2020), a nine-minute film using dance footage in the traumatic sites associated with the racial lynching of Fred Rouse to tell Rouse’s story. The video also includes archival footage from the late nineteenth century, 1920s silent film text, as well as short archival excerpts from a February 1922 Fort Worth, Texas, Ku Klux Klan (KKK) Klavern No. 101 parade. Musical accompaniment includes atmospheric sounds and popular 1920s and 1930s KKK songs.

Artist McKinney says “In Unfolding History, I play with representations of Blackness and the possibility of trans-portation and trans-formation juxtaposing pain and healing, trauma and recovery, frailty and strength.”

Fred Rouse was lynched on a hackberry tree by members of KKK Klavern No. 101 in Fort Worth, Texas, on December 11, 1921. Fort Worth had one of the largest KKK memberships in the country in the 1920s, so much so that they built a 4,000 seat auditorium. DNAWORKS, an arts and service organization co-founded by McKinney, is currently working to acquire the building and transform it into an international center and museum for the arts and community healing. They call the project “Transform 1012 N. Main Street.”

McKinney will be featuring the work of Zeus Hope Walton, a collage artist and painter, and Najeeb Sabour, a composer, in concert with Unfolding History over the course of the month.

Najeeb Sabour, The Bird Song, 2020; cello and voice, time: 5:12; Courtesy of the artist.
Zeus Hope presents Rock My Soul as part of Unfolding History, reflect / project exhibition at Mid-America Arts Alliance
Zeus Hope, Rock My Soul, 2020; acrylic paint, collaged sheet music, card stock, paper, 11 x 14 inches; Courtesy of the artist.

Unfolding History will be projected on a loop at M-AAA from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. every evening continuing through October 1.

Visitors can engage the work with socially distanced viewing at any time during these hours, enjoying the films from the sidewalk, street, or parking lot in front of Mid-America Arts Alliance at 2018 Baltimore Ave in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District.

Viewers can also stream the films on the reflect / project page, and learn more about the artists and their work.

Adam W. McKinney is a former member of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Béjart Ballet Lausanne, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, and Milwaukee Ballet Company. He has led dance work across the US and in Benin, Canada, England, Ghana, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Palestine, Poland, Rwanda, Serbia, Spain, and South Africa. Named one of the most influential African Americans in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by St. Vincent DePaul, McKinney is the Co-Director of DNAWORKS LLC, an arts and service organization committed to healing through the arts and dialogue. He holds a BFA with high honors in Dance Performance from Butler University and an MA in Dance Studies with concentrations in Race and Trauma theories from NYU-Gallatin. McKinney is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. He was recently selected to participate in Mid-America Arts Alliance’s Interchange program, designed to strengthen communities and individual artists within our region by supporting artist-led projects focused on social impact.

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