13. Beyond Life and Death & 108 Kinds of Hope and Empathy at King Manor Museum

Image of dining room table from Beyond Life and Death exhibit. Courtesy of the Kelsey Brow (King Manor Museum).
Dining room table from Beyond Life and Death exhibit. Courtesy of Kelsey Brow (King Manor Museum).

This summer, interdisciplinary artist Hayoon Jay Lee — in collaboration with the King Manor Museum, South Queens Women’s March, and poet-editor Cheryl Moskowitz — will present Let’s Share in the Moment: A Dialogue Around Eating, a five-part mixed-media art installation. Located at King Manor, the installation will include Beyond Life and Death, an exhibit centered around a red-tablecloth-draped dining room table. Present on the table is an intriguing combination of kitchen and dining ware from Rufus King’s collection, mixed with outside animal bones and rice capsules. At the head of the table — where Mary Alsop (Rufus King’s wife) would sit — the items are placed in an orderly fashion. Moving down the table, the objects become more and more entangled, giving the latter sections a feeling of uncontrollable energy. In addition, surrounding the walls of the exhibit are three poems by Moskowitz — all of which were inspired by viewing Lee’s interactions with the Jamaica community while engaged in a street performance. Beyond Life and Death also incorporates a riveting discussion on food issues facing our community today, with a documentary entitled The Table Dialogue playing at the entrance.

The second of Lee’s King Manor exhibits is 108 Kinds of Hope and Empathy, which features a collection of various types of rice found over the past year in Jamaica community markets and elsewhere. While collecting new grains of rice, Lee came to view it as a marker of change along the social spectrum — white rice was once eaten mainly by the wealthy and today is most associated with less affluent world cuisines. In 108 glass jars, 108 Kinds of Hope and Empathy perfectly displays the rice and also water, earth, bones, human hair, and coins — aiming to represent both good and bad sources of interconnectivity. Let’s Share in the Moment: A Dialogue Around Eating was created as part of Jamaica Flux: Workspaces and Windows 2021.