Julia Bullock began her season-long residency at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this Saturday, September 15. Her residency is a five-event series spanning from September 2018 to May 2019, centered on the themes of identity, objectification, and history. Bullock, who is of mixed black and white ancestry, views this residency as an opportunity to explore “the depths and beauty of [her] heritage.” Among other sources of inspiration, Bullock draws on her family’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement—she proudly reveals that her father shared a jail cell with Martin Luther King Jr. after a sit-in—as well as slave narratives, the work of poet Langston Hughes, and the life of Josephine Baker, to craft five thought-provoking musical programs which strive to provide “a voice for beings and stories that have been made silent” (Now at the Met).
Hailed by The New York Times as “extraordinary and heartening,” the first of these programs features original interpretations of traditional slave songs. Titled History’s Persistent Voice, the performance—as described by Bullock herself—is a look “at art that has an unequivocal link to history…to help ensure that history will not be denied, dismissed, or buried.” Fittingly, Bullock’s work coincides with the Met exhibit History Refused to Die, featuring black Southeastern American artists; this visual art is incorporated into the musical production and heightens Bullock’s passionate performance.