Helen Cammock: I Will Keep My Soul
October 14, 2023–December 17, 2023

at U.N.O. St. Claude Gallery, 2429 St. Claude Ave., New Orleans, LA. Gallery hours are Saturdays and Sundays, 12:00pm-5:00pm.

An exhibition of film, poetry, performance, 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 poetry—and the sound of her trumpet—an instrument she began practicing in New Orleans.

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 (March 2023).

In New Orleans, Helen Cammock: I Will Keep My Soul is organized by Rivers Institute for Contemporary Art & Thought (Rivers) and presented at the University of New Orleans’s St. Claude Gallery. A previous iteration of the exhibition was organized in partnership with Art + Practice (Los Angeles) as part of a multi-year collaboration between CAAM and Rivers. CAAM at A+P is a five-year collaboration.

This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of The RosaMary Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Ruth Foundation for the Arts, Teiger Foundation, and the generosity of Stephen Reily. Research for this exhibition was conducted in the archives of the Amistad Research Center as part of the Amistad-Rivers Research Residency supported by Mellon Foundation. Additional support for The Quill Sessions made possible by a 2023-2024 New Orleans Art Council Louisiana Project Grant.

Image Credit: Helen Cammock, I Will Keep My Soul, 2023 (film Still). Courtesy of the artist and Kate MacGarry, London.

Exhibition Views

Reviews and Press

“Helen Cammock: Notes on the Soul of New Orleans”
By AX Mina

Published May 9, 2023 

“Helen Cammock’s: I Will Keep My Soul interviewed by Kate Wolf”
LARB Radio Hour
Aired April 28, 2023

“Featured Artist: Helen Cammock: I Will Keep My Soul at Art + Practice”
Los Angeles Review of Books
Published April 16, 2023

“Turner-Award Winning British Artist Helen Cammock Debuts in US with a Solo Exhibition at CAAM”
By Balasz Takac

Published April 7, 2023

“20 Spring Exhibitions & Art Shows to Explore”
By Okla Jones

Published 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
Published March 13, 2023 

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

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

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

Published February 15, 2023

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

“Eight Must-See Exhibitions to See During Frieze Los Angeles”
By Torey Akers, Benjamin Sutton, and Claire Voon

The Art Newspaper
Published February 13, 2023