Romare Bearden’s collages, made as blueprints for a ballet, tell the story of a mysterious war in the bayou.
“Bayou Fever and Related Works,” an exhibition of twenty-one vibrant collages by the late artist Romare Bearden, is on view at DC Moore Gallery through April 29. Made in 1979, the works were originally conceived of as blueprints for a ballet, the titular Bayou Fever—a performance Bearden hoped would be choreographed by Alvin Ailey but was never produced. The ballet’s storyline involves a confrontation between the “Conjur Woman” and the “Swamp Witch,” who twist in a dramatic struggle for the soul of a sick child deep in the bayou. The collages are exhibited alongside artworks from other years, an effect that accents Bearden’s motifs: powerful women, elders, musicians, rural landscapes, domestic interiors, and religion.