Shelter in Place

Shelter in Place is an immersive environment originally created by Adam W. McKinney for Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (2020) with dramaturgy and direction by Daniel Banks. Shelter in Place deconstructs elements of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot to reflect on anti-Black racial violence, historical trauma, and the possibilities of liberation through art and ritual. The work began with McKinney's learning of the 1921 lynching of Mr. Fred Rouse, whose murder at the hands of a white mob in Fort Worth, TX, has largely been forgotten. With few historical images to draw upon, the artists collaborated with photographer Will Wilson (Diné)  to stage tintypes wherein McKinney remembers and re-presences Mr. Rouse in the traumatic sites associated with the lynching.

These images become the locus of documenting injustices of the past and the means for initiating transformational civic change. The viewer witnesses McKinney dancing in Glorious Clouds (2020), a film created in collaboration with Roma Flowers, which manifests the sukkah's protection. He circles and spirals as a representation of Shechinah, the female presence of the Almighty. In another video entitled Unfolding History (2019), McKinney offers insight into the connections between the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and the racial terror lynching of Mr. Fred Rouse, by intercutting silent movie text from Charlie Chaplin's The Kid (1921), video footage from an early 1920s downtown Fort Worth Ku Klux Klan parade, and his dance performance of SCAB (2019) in The Fort Worth Stockyards. In celebration of Sukkot, DNAWORKS inverts the sukkah, bringing the secrecy of historical truths to light with photographs, film, text, and dance. A nod to the latticed roof of the sukkah, Shelter in Place gathers a visual archive that feels less like finding shelter and more as a yearning for it. DNAWORKS's multimedia exploration of the life of Mr. Rouse is a Black Jewish response to history, re-embodied as a prayer for justice.

Shelter in Place has shown at Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (Portland), Bridge Projects (Los Angeles), and Project Row Houses (Houston).

Concept, Choreography, & Dance Performance: Adam W. McKinney | Dramaturgy/Direction: Daniel Banks | Tintype Photography: Will Wilson | Dance Film Artist: Roma Flowers | Music: Najeeb Sabour

Original funders: Asylum Arts, CANVAS, Mid-America Arts Alliance

Special thanks to The Rouse Family