Helen Cammock: I Will Keep My Soul
February 11, 2023–August 05, 2023

at Art + Practice in Los Angeles

An exhibition of film, poetry, performance, ceramics, archival documents, and books, Helen Cammock: I Will Keep My Soul is rooted in the social history, geography, and community of New Orleans. British artist Helen Cammock arrived in New Orleans for the first time in January 2022 as part of a residency with the Rivers Institute for Contemporary Art & Thought and the Amistad Research Center. I Will Keep My Soul gathers encounters and observations, figured in text and image, of her experiences in the city—it is a gathering on gathering, on the indissociable relationship between art, politics, and the power of assembly.

Drawn in part from archival materials in the Amistad Research Center, I Will Keep My Soul tells the story of artist Elizabeth Catlett’s struggle for agency, creative autonomy, and support throughout her 1976 commission for the Louis Armstrong sculpture in New Orleans’s Armstrong Park. Catlett’s protracted process, revealed through letters and fraught exchanges, acts as a mirror to both past and present, asking how to be artist and activist—and free.

Through a polyphony of contemporary and historical voices—from archivists, artists, writers, and musicians to the protagonists of the civil rights movement, both seen and unseen—Cammock invites both rhyme and dissonance. To these voices she adds her own with poetry, ceramics, and the sound of her trumpet, an instrument she began practicing in New Orleans.

From Armstrong Park to Leimert Park, I Will Keep My Soul is an extended query into an American story of art and activism, of culture and capital, of being and belonging. It is accompanied by an eponymous publication co-imprinted by Rivers Institute for Contemporary Art & Thought, the California African American Museum, and Siglio Press (available March 2023).

Helen Cammock: I Will Keep My Soul is organized by the Rivers Institute for Contemporary Art & Thought (Rivers) and the California African American Museum (CAAM) and presented at Art + Practice (A+P). This exhibition is curated by Jordan Amirkhani and Andrea Andersson (Rivers) in partnership with Essence Harden (CAAM) as part of a multi-year collaboration between the institutions. CAAM at A+P is a five-year collaboration.

This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of the RosaMary Foundation and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Research for this exhibition was conducted in the archives of the Amistad Research Center as part of the Amistad-Rivers Research Residency supported by the Mellon Foundation.

Exhibition Views

Reviews and Press
“20 Spring Exhibitions & Art Shows to Explore”
By Okla Jones
March 23, 2023

“11 Los Angeles-Area Museum Exhibitions Are Showcasing Works by a Spectrum of Black Artists: Henry Taylor, Helen Cammock, Milford Graves, Kenturah Davis, and More”
By Victoria L. Valentine
Culture Type
March 13, 2023 

“Helen Cammock: Archives illuminate the past and future”
By Claire Voon
The Art Newspaper
February 18, 2023

“Helen Cammock: I Will Keep My Soul” in Best of L.A. Round-Up
February 18, 2023

“Five Shows to See in Los Angeles During Frieze Week 2023”
By Janelle Zara
February 15, 2023

“The Best Shows to See in Los Angeles During Frieze”
By Armando Pulido
February 15, 2023

“Eight Must-See Exhibitions to See During Frieze Los Angeles”
By Torey Akers, Benjamin Sutton, and Claire Voon
The Art Newspaper
February 13, 2023