A new exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM), titled Musical Thinking: New Video Art and Sonic Strategies, showcases the work of 10 contemporary artists who use musical elements and influences to create powerful and engaging videos that reflect on American culture and identity.

The exhibition runs from June 23, 2023 to January 29, 2024, and will feature 29 artworks by ADÁL, Raven Chacon, Mariam Ghani, Martine Gutierrez, Arthur Jafa, Erin Ellen Kelly, Christine Sun Kim, Liz Magic Laser, Simone Leigh, and Cauleen Smith. These artists draw on various genres and styles of American music, such as spirituals, jazz, musicals, soundtracks, and hip-hop, to explore themes such as history, memory, race, gender, politics, and spirituality. The exhibition will also include related photographs, sculptures, prints, and immersive installations by the same artists.

The curator of the exhibition is Saisha Grayson, who is the curator of time-based media at SAAM. She explains that the exhibition aims to highlight the importance of music in shaping our understanding of ourselves and our society: "By bringing musical strategies and insights into their time-based media artworks, the featured award-winning creators powerfully address personal as well as shared aspects of life in the United States. Rather than treating soundtracks as secondary, the musical choices in the featured videos are key to their meaning and impact."

The exhibition also emphasizes the multisensory and social aspects of music with inclusive design throughout. The museum collaborated with Motion Light Labs at Gallaudet University to develop layered experiences that are accessible for Deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences, as well as all visitors. For example, benches in black box galleries will conduct enhanced vibrations to allow physical appreciation of the unique soundtrack in each video. Audio notes or open captions have also been provided for each installation.

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