Fort Worth Community Arts Center


Memory Beast

Fort Worth Gallery - Memory Beast

Exhibition on Display: January 22, 2021 - March 20, 2021

Works by Morgan Grasham

Memory Beast is a project about storytelling. The stories we tell matter. Stories indicate what is important to us, they tell us who we are, and how we understand our relationship to the world around us. Stories create and maintain realities. Social realities, political realities, ecological realities. In Western culture, we have a problematic archetypal story of domination over nature, often called the progress narrative. These stories have brought us to a time of great ecological imbalance, in which we face climate change and mass extinction. From this viewpoint, what hope is there to be found, for a finite flourishing on a wounded earth? According to scholars like Donna Haraway and Linda Vance, what creates new possibilities for earthly survival is new kinds of storytelling practices. Generative, multispecies cooperative narratives that we tell with our companion species. Memory Beast is a project that explores these new kinds of storytelling practices, acting as a conduit between biological others and the community. A memory beast is a physical encoding of our ideas of any particular species (i..e. cow). It is a holotype, a representative example, not of a (cow) but of what we think of as (cow)ness. Through participatory research with the community, I collect stories, descriptions, and drawings, then combine them into a physical object, a memory beast. This is placed in the field next to the biological counterpart, in order to highlight the contrast, illuminating the differences between our ideas of cowness and the living, breathing cow. It is a tool to see the difference, in order to see and know the biological cow and write new stories with them. Memory Beast was completed and installed at the University of North Texas just this month, but was not open to the public. I am proposing to bring Memory Beast to the Fort Worth Community Arts Center for its first public exhibition. This would allow the community who participated in the work to see it for the first time, and open the work to its public debut. FWCAC is a ripe choice of debut space, as it is a place devoted to the community, in a city with a rich history with cows, the central species in this project. Here is a link to a Virtual Tour of Memory Beast with a Q&A session: