Exhibit Opens The Prison Of Our Choices

Exhibit Opens The Prison Of Our Choices,
By Michele Besso, © The News Journal, 01/25/2001

Kim Mayhorn wants people to do more than stare at her art; she wants to involve them in it. "I like my art to be interactive, where people can do something," she said. "I find with art I tend to want to have space and movement…and incorporate various natural elements.''

Mayhorn, 31, succeeded with the unveiling of her latest and largest piece of "installation work," "Black Boxisms: Visiting Room."

The exhibit was unveiled Jan. 18 at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, 200 S. Madison St., Wilmington, and will run through March 4. It's her fourth piece of work and her sixth solo show.

As the center's eight-week artist-in-residence, Mayhorn worked twice a week with 12 girls from the Joseph H. Douglass School in Wilmington. The girls, considered at risk of not completing high school, attend the special school, which is part of the Christina School District. Mayhorn's last day with the program was Jan. 17.

The project, a collaboration with the Christina Cultural Arts Center, ran from Nov. 28 last year through Jan. 12, and focused on choices the girls would have to face every day and how decision-making processes affect those choices. The girls in the program have completed various artistic projects, such as creating a collage on a chair -using images, magazines, maps and text -to contribute to Mayhorn's exhibition.

"What Kim brought to the DCCA is an exciting process that involves concepts becoming an actual installation [structure] through a residency and process of interaction over eight weeks," said Dede Young, program director and curator at DCCA. "The exposition involves very deep intellectual and emotional concerns about making life choices."

The structure Mayhorn designed is a 10-foot-by-10-foot orange "prison cell" with metal bars. The floor is covered with a large map. Inside the "prison" is a small black room with bicycle wheels on the wall and a chair for sitting. The piece was built with the help of the Composition Workshop in Brooklyn, N.Y., where Mayhorn has lived since 1993.
She was born and raised in Texas.

"The piece deals with the prison of the brain and mind, how one processes decisions and choices," Mayhorn said. "The map represents different locations where circumstances in our lives cause us to make certain decisions."

The black room represents a snapshot of the brain and how the wheels of the mind constantly are spinning, she said.

Although she always has been artistic, Mayhorn studied engineering and communications at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

After graduation, she worked on music videos and interned at CBS Networks. She has been editing films and documentaries for the past year and was featured in "Essence" magazine last May as one of 30 women to watch.