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Video transcript

[Music] we're in the galleries of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art standing in front of a large curved black wall and coming out of it our shoelaces thousands of shoelaces of all different colors this is a work of art called We the People black version by an artist named nari ward these are holes that are drilled directly into the wall with brightly colored shoelaces sticking out from it and when I first walk in there's a moment of confusion does it say something is there actually writing here there is writing this says we the people in a historic script that would have been pinned by the original writers of the US Constitution so taking those first three words from the preamble but I'm glad you mentioned the confusion of it the shoelaces are different links and they're almost drippy they drape right off of the wall in a way that is a little bit of an obscure ensuite of people to a point that maybe it actually makes you stop and look and consider even more who were the people that this was written for and this is all-encompassing when you're standing close to this it makes you part of this so it envelops the person who stands in front of it but at the same time it feels very public it's for a community the multicolored shoelaces reference that as well it's all the differences of individuals that come together to create in form we the people and when Mary Ward was thinking about this work he was at a residency in Philadelphia thinking about all of these founding documents of the United States and how it referenced him because he's Jamaican he is an immigrant his experience growing up somewhere else and then coming to the United States was part of that consideration of these old documents in some way he's also saying we know we the people but do we really know the whole US Constitution and the document this introduces when something becomes so common that we don't pay attention to it or really know it like the shoe strings that were wearing we all wear shoes we all have shoelaces they live with us through our day and so we have this multitude of identities this multitude of people whose shoelaces are coming together to form these words shoelaces have a way of crossing even socio-economic boundaries even if you don't have a lot of money you may at least have one pair of shoes with shoelaces so confronted with the multiplicity of shoelaces here of all of these colors of references to all of these lived experiences it stands in such contrast to the very narrow definition of who the people were when this was written that the suffrage that voting rights were not accorded to women to African Americans were not accorded to the poor who did not own land to Native Americans there were so many groups that couldn't vote I think it's easy to forget that the phrase We the People was a declaration that the people could rule that rule did not have to come from the Divine Right of Kings so although the phrase We the People although the Constitution itself may seem distant and a document of the 18th century it was a radical document in its own day it was this young American nation laying down its founding principles and if the artist is doing I think in part by choosing shoelaces is taking something that is abstract and distant an idea and making it immediate and personal and intimate to make it of the 21st century the shoe strings look like they could move they're almost feathery they drip they swirl they are short and long some of them stick out at you that movement is a literal dynamism that's embodied in the work itself that the Constitution itself is shaped by our lived experience you