Mary Corey March

Between the Lines (experience exchange)

Mixed Media Participatory Installation: acrylic-painted vellum, wire mesh, poplar, hinges, linen thread, arches paper, questions (2017).


This piece was done by commission for the College of the Redwoods in honor of their Book of the Year ("Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates). It offered an interactive way for the community to respond to the themes of the book and find common ground and understanding within the community.

The physical base of the piece recalls a barrier, but a permiable one. It references fences in the sorts of neighborhoods which are themselves barriers, border fences, etc. It is a barrier one can see through and possibly break through or climb over, but a barrier nontheless. At the same time each panel is the size of a standard doorway (hinting that one can pass through) which is labeled on two sides with opposing ideas from the text.The way the panels connect references a fence, but also a folded book or a screen (which is something one changes behind). The "leaves" for responses were made of translucant vellum, so that light could always pass through, however many filled the panels.

On each panel is a word that represents a major theme in Coates’ book, with an opposing word on the other side. Most of these are intuitive even to people who haven't read the book, but some less so. For example "Privilege" is cast opposite of "Opportunity" because opportunity is something open to everyone, while "Privilege" literally means "Private Law": that the rules are different for some people than others.


Participants were given a choice of writing prompts related to topics within the text "Between the world and me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Participants wrote their responses onto one of the "leaves" and put it into the box.

They then took out someone else's response and tied it to the screen within a door/frame category they felt it belonged to. Each of the categories was taken from major themes in the text.