“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.
Romare Bearden, The Bayou, 1979, collage, ink, pencil, and acrylic on fiberboard, 6″ x 9″.
The Father Comes Home, 1979, collage on fiberboard, 9″ x 6″.
Wife and Child in Cabin, 1979, collage, pencil, and acrylic on fiberboard, 6″ x 9″.
The Swamp Witch, 1979, collage and acrylic on fiberboard, 9″ x 6″.
The Swamp Witch, Blue-Green Lights and Conjur Woman, 1979, acrylic and collage on fiberboard, 6″ x 9″.
The Buzzard and the Snake (The Conjur Woman), 1979, collage on fiberboard with attached string and safety pin, 9″ x 6″.
The Hatchet Man, 1979, collage, acrylic, and pencil on fiberboard, 9″ x 6″.
Star (Star from the Heavens), 1979, collage and acrylic on fiberboard, 9″ x 6″.
Past-Present-Future and Beautiful Dreams, 1979, collage and acrylic on fiberboard, 9″ x 6″.
All Come Back, 1979, collage and acrylic on fiberboard, 4 1/2″ x 10 1/2″.
All images © Estate of Romare Bearden. Courtesy of DC Moore Gallery, New York.
Caitlin Love is an associate editor of The Paris Review.
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