Meet Old No. 77 Hotel’s Newest Artist in Residence: Derrick Woods-Morrow
Meet Derrick, ya’ll. Our newest artistic talent to call the Old No. 77 Hotel home. Over the next several weeks, he’ll be in New Orleans working, creating, and sharing his process with us.
Originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, Derrick currently resides in the Windy City (Chicago) where he works as a sexual health advocate and activist while pursuing his passion in the arts. His work is a meditation on deviation and disruption, language, and representation on growing up in the American South.
His work has been exhibited in collaboration with Paul Mpagi Sepuya in the 2019 Whitney Biennial; internationally in This is America at Kunsthal KAdE in Amersfoort, Netherlands; Detroit Art Week Expo; and in the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. In Winter of 2019, his second short film, 'much handled things are always soft' debuted in collaboration with the VISUAL AIDS 30th Annual Day With(out) ART programming at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Contemporary Art LA, The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, The Brooklyn Museum, and over a hundred institutions worldwide. He is the 2021 Edith and Philip Leonian fellow at the Center of Photography Woodstock; Bemis Residency Recipient; and a visiting artist at Antenna Works. Previous residencies at the Fire Island Artist Residency, Chicago Artists Coalition’s Bolt Residency, and he is a recipient of the 2018 Artadia Award – Chicago.
Old No. 77: Derrick, tell us where your artistic journey began? What inspired your path?
I want to say it began in a cornfield somewhere daydreaming about escaping the planet or something like that. I grew up in a place that was very small and quite country, and "unwelcome" flags flew around my elementary, middle, and high school. I hardly knew what it all meant at the time, but I always told my mom I wanted to be an intergalactic space robot, who fought for justice, had superpowers, and could travel whenever he wanted - far from Brown Summit, North Carolina, the small country town, right outside of Greensboro, NC, where I grew up. My mother never told me I couldn't be that, between her and my grandmother, they really never told me I couldn't be anything, ever, and I think that's honestly how I became an artist.
Old No. 77: Can you tell us more about the projects you currently have in the works? And what you’ll be working on during your stay in New Orleans at Old No. 77?
Old No. 77: What’s next for you?
This morning? I'm going to go have some tea, probably earl grey, and open a new book. I think I'll go check out the newly opened Baldwin & Co. bookstore here in New Orleans. In the summer of 2018, I traced James Baldwin all over and throughout the city of Paris, where he too went on a journey of escape. I have always seen him as a bit of a muse, and inspiration. Of course, he came back, and everything he's given voice to here in America continues to drive much of my work. My return to the South, is similar in that I could never really leave it for too long, it eventually drew me back, maybe to stay for a bit longer each time. If I can find funding, and housing I'd like to move here, it would enrich the work in a way that coming down here in short burst from Chicago could not. In the near future, I want to be here.
Old No. 77 Hotels’ month-long and short-term residencies invite artists, like Derrick, from around the country on a cultural exploration of the Crescent City – giving them a place to live and create. Learn more about the Artist in Residence program on the Old No. 77 Hotel's site and for more on Derrick, follow along on Instagram.