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The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA Denver) and Orange Barrel Media are presenting a major public art project by Nari Ward in downtown Denver, curated by Diana Nawi. Brought to life on the historical Daniels and Fisher clock tower and around the city, Ward’s 2020 creation LAZARUS Beacon and other works debuted in conjunction with a retrospective of the artist at the MCA Denver, “We the People.”
LAZARUS Beacon was named for the poet and activist Emma Lazarus’s 1883 sonnet, The New Colossus, engraved on a plaque at the Statue of Liberty. Ward’s work is composed of a multi-story projection onto the clock tower and highlights the section of the poem mentioning America’s promise to shelter the tired and poor. Estimated to reach around 385,000 viewers daily, the work acts as a reminder of the important role we play in the continuous social and political battles in the United States during the quest to find liberty and justice for all its inhabitants.
Alongside LAZARUS Beacon, adaptations of Ward’s iconic wall-drawings made by drilling shoelaces into architectural walls are on billboards across Denver with phrases like “We Shall Overcome” and “This is a beautiful country.”
“We are so pleased to partner with Orange Barrel Media to bring Nari Ward’s profound, poignant works to a broader audience in the center of Denver,” said Nora Burnett Abrams, MCA Denver’s Mark G. Falcone Director. “We hope these digital works foster meaningful dialogue, especially at this critical moment in our city and nation, as we reckon with so many of the issues raised by Ward’s work, such as the legacy of slavery, systemic racism, and police brutality.”
Coinciding with the installation of public art, Ward’s “We the People” will remain open at MCA Denver through September 20. The retrospective—the museum’s first show since closure due to COVID-19—includes a selection of sculptures, paintings, videos, and large-scale installations dating back to the 1990s, including the title work, We the People, which has been displayed for the public eye across two stories of the museum’s glass façade.