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That word 'impossible,' I think, has stuck with me, because I think there's something beautiful inside of it. To be impossible in the system that we have right now is magic.Artist Saba Taj
Welcome to the Nasher Museum Podcast! This episode features artist Saba Taj, who lives in Durham, N.C., and whose paintings are part of Reckoning and Resilience: North Carolina Art Now. They are in conversation with Chanelle Croxton, a labor organizer and the North Carolina statewide director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance. More episodes will be added throughout the exhibition, on view through July 10, 2022.
Saba Taj is a visual artist based in Durham, NC. Inspired by Islamic stories, sci-fi and revolution, Taj’s work explores representation, the gaze, queerness and the body. Their work employs interdisciplinary practices including mixed-media drawing, painting and collage, sewing and performance. Through these techniques, Taj seeks to celebrate subjects who are often characterized as monstrous, highlighting their hybridity and liminality as an embodied resistance to subjugation. Taj was the 2019-2020 post-MFA Fellow for the Documentary Diversity Project at CDS, former executive director of the Carrack Modern Art, Southern Constellations Fellow at Elsewhere Museum, and featured speaker at TEDxDuke in 2017.
Chanelle “C.C” Croxton is a labor organizer whose skills were sharpened by the many brilliant freedom fighters in Durham, NC. She is currently the N.C. Organizing Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance and leads the recruitment, membership building, campaign work and movement building of Black care and domestic workers in our state to win protections and improvements at the workplace and transform our overall care system. Her work is driven by the belief that engaging in worker struggle rooted in racial and gender justice is the pathway towards our collective liberation. She also believes firmly in organizing that abolishes the carceral state. Lastly, C.C. is also a student of dance, studying and performing styles of the African diaspora and modern dance.
I think how we usually talk about things in binary forms, particularly identity, we usually are opposing a mainstream category with a marginal category. And when we talk about race, it’s usually someone is either white or Black. We talk about sexuality, you're either straight or gay. Religion, you're a Christian or you're atheist. Gender, you're a man or a woman. And as you've talked about yourself and your identities, I know that a lot of those identities you hold don't fit really well within that and the marginal identities that you hold yourself aren't even visible enough to be recognized or even named in our popular conceptions.Chanelle Croxton
My name is Chanelle Croxton, or “C.C.,” and I am a Durham resident, a labor organizer, the North Carolina statewide director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance. And I just so happen to be comrades with one of the artists featured in the show: the talented, the one and only, Saba Taj.
Before you even introduce yourself, I want to start off and not go the customary route of reading your bio or asking you to say some words about yourself. But you know that I’m an organizer and you’re an organizer as well and you know how we love icebreakers and so I thought we would do a little icebreaker style “getting to know you better.” And I want you to just kind of answer off the top of your head just the first things that come to you. So don’t think too hard about it. I’m just going to read some prompts and then you respond as you see fit.
If I said “the first art I ever made that I was proud of was,” you would say…
J Caldwell, staff photographer, videographer, social media manager, Nasher Museum
Wendy Hower, director of engagement & marketing, Nasher Museum
Dani Yan, Duke Class of 2022, marketing intern, Nasher Museum
This exhibition was organized by the Nasher Museum’s curatorial department: Molly Boarati, associate curator; Adria Gunter, curatorial assistant; Melissa Gwynn, exhibitions and publications manager; Lauren Haynes, Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Senior Curator of Contemporary Art; and Marshall N. Price, Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Chief Curator and Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.
Reckoning and Resilience: North Carolina Art Now is generously supported by Bank of America.
Additional support provided by the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation; The Duke Endowment; Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family Fund for Exhibitions; Frank Edward Hanscom Endowment Fund; Janine & J. Tomilson Hill Family Fund; J. Horst & Ruth Mary Meyer Fund; John & Anita Schwarz Family Endowment; Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Foundation; Katie Thorpe Kerr and Terrance I. R. Kerr; Lisa Lowenthal Pruzan and Jonathan Pruzan; and Kelly Braddy Van Winkle and Lance Van Winkle.