Curated Conversation with Sheldon Scott Creator of "Portrait, number 1 man (day clean ta sun down)"

In 2020, Ogden Museum of Southern Art acquired its first major video performance piece, Sheldon Scott’s Portrait, number 1 man (day clean ta sun down). Portrait, number 1 man (day clean ta sun down) is on view at Ogden Museum through August 22, 2021.

With Portrait, number 1 man (day clean ta sun down), Sheldon Scott uses his own body to create a portrait of his ancestors, enslaved Africans from the Gullah Geechee region of the Southeastern U.S. The 12 hour and 20 minute film, set in the rice fields of the former labor camp where his ancestors were enslaved, endures a typical work day from dawn till dusk, where the artist husks rice by hand, one grain at a time. Through using his own body to represent an entire community, Scott restores humanity to the narrative of slavery in the American South.

Sheldon Scott is a native of Pawleys Island, South Carolina. A former psychotherapist and professional storyteller, his fine art practice is primarily focused on performance and video installation. Scott mines his experiences growing up in the Gullah Geechee South and his tenure in a mental health practice to examine the Black male form and expectations of usability and expendability as they relate to constructs of race, economics, and sexuality.

This film features a score by iconic singer-songwriter and composer, Tamar-kali, and features the cinematography of critically acclaimed filmmaker and artist, Jon-Sesrie Goff, both of whom are also Gullah/Geechee. Portrait, number 1 man (day clean ta sun down) was included in the exhibition, The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today, at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Sheldon is represented by ConnerSmith Gallery.

“This acquisition marks the first addition of a major digital video art piece to the permanent collection of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art,” says Bradley Sumrall, Curator of the Collection at Ogden Museum. “This is a powerful work of art that explores some of the most defining issues facing the nation and the region today: race, place, identity, white supremacy and the brutal history and lasting legacy of slavery.”

Portrait, number 1 man (day clean ta sun down) is a promised gift to the Ogden Museum collection by Dale Mott and Ken Hyle.

“We are very grateful for this addition to the collection,” says William Pittman Andrews, Executive Director of Ogden Museum. “The acquisition was funded by a new trustee and his husband, who wanted to have an immediate impact on the museum’s collection by including an artist from an underrepresented community.”

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