Midlands, a multimedia installation by artist and writer Courtney McClellan, is the culmination of a three-year project that intersects art and performance with academic pursuits in the field of law.
The exhibition, delayed from Spring 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, opened Nov 3, 2020 in the Albany Museum of Art East Gallery and continued through Feb 20, 2021.
In creating the installation, McClellan first investigated and examined the structure of the UGA Mock Trial in which students acted as attorneys, jury and judges to work out complex legal problems in a fictional location called Midlands. “The resulting three channel video installation visualizes and imagines this fictional land,” AMA Guest Curator Didi Dunphy said.
“I am interested in professionals who write and perform unstable truths,” McClellan said. “By this, I mean that I study people who act as gatekeepers in an age when truth is pluralistic, difficult to define, and/or nonexistent. Particularly today, these professionals are tasked with the impossible, but the necessary. I collaborate with attorneys, journalists, court reporters, law students and teachers in order to explore how they’re important but fallible actions offer grave, complex, transformative outcomes.”
Her research on the performance of rhetoric in institutional space led McClellan, of Atlanta, to study the university’s mock trial team, which is nationally ranked.
The artwork from her study exists “at the intersection of media,” she said, adding they are “translations” between people and media.”
“Through collaboration, research, and intermedia practice, I produce hybrids: performing objects, objectified text, and performative writing that I exhibit through scripted actions, sculptures, installations, and occasionally essays,” she said.
McClellan, originally from Greensboro, N.C., has a B.A. in studio art and journalism and mass communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.F.A. from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. A Fountainhead Fellow in the Sculpture and Extended Media Department at Virginia Commonwealth University, she was the Sculpture Fellow at UGA in 2015-17 and a Museum of Fine Arts Boston Traveling Fellow in 2017-18. Awarded the 2019-20 Roman J. Witt Residency at the University of Michigan, she will create Witness Lab, an interdisciplinary, collaborative project with Stamps School of Art students and faculty. She also is a 2019-20 Working Artist Project Fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. Her work will be included Atlanta Biennial 2021, curated by Jordan Amerikani, at the Atlanta Contemporary in Atlanta. Recently, she was named the 2021 Innovator-in-Residence at the Library of Congress