New York–based multidisciplinary artist Lajuné McMillian combines extended reality software and mediums including movement and sound to provide an exuberant visual critique of oppressive systems that commodify bodies and otherwise limit free expressions. Working with motion capture (witnessing) software, their work often translates the movements of Black people, seen as both individual and cultural identifiers, into dizzying rhythms and explosive patterns and sounds. 

Integrating movement, sound, and prayer, The Portal’s Keeper: Origins features the three-part installation Spirit and Child, a series of prayers of healing and gratitude between avatars called the Child and the Spirit Guide, created using motion capture and 3D modeling software. As the two avatars share philosophies and prayers seeking to help “Black children trying to find their way home,” they confirm that home lies within themselves—the children are already there. 

In addition to video animation, the exhibition includes a mannequin 3D printed from the artist’s head with a dramatic wig made of yaki hair extensions, emphasizing the importance of hair in Black culture. The flanking videos will also be projected onto fields of woven yaki, creating a soft, dreamlike sensation reinforcing the otherworldly nature of the videos. McMillian is present in all three elements: “In one room is me as Child, the other is me as Spirit, and the center is me as I am now. This show is telling my origin story.” 

Image: LaJuné McMillian. Still from Spirit & Child, 2024. Video installation. Courtesy of the artist

Organized by the Frist Art Museum

Supported in part by

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Clay Blevins

Gordon CAP Gallery Fund

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Presented in part by

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