THE KING OF ARMS ART BALL 6 A virtual ballroom experience

July 10th at 8pm EDT / 5pm PDT click link below to watch!


Founded and led by Trans and gender-nonconforming people and their allies, House of GG creates safe and transformative spaces where members of their community can heal—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—from the trauma arising from generations of transphobia, racism, sexism, poverty, ableism, and violence, and nurture them into tomorrow’s leaders. They currently primarily focus on supporting and nurturing the leadership of transgender women of color living in the U.S. South.

Since 2013 I have staged my annual King of Arms Art Ball, a live performance event that brings together renowned figures from the art, fashion, music, literary, activism, entertainment, and LGBTQ + vogue community. In The King of Arms Art Ball, I stage a ball a dance and performance competition -- where all the categories are based on a specific artist’s work or a particular movement within art history and contemporary culture.

Since the creation of the King of Arms Art Ball, I have been using the architecture of ballroom as a way to get people to think critically about the ways in which the culture of domination is at play in their lives. I hope to remove from ballroom the focus on the gender binary and allegiance to capitalism. Instead, I ask participants to focus on their own creativity rather then what they can acquire. A big part of the King of Arms Art Ball is thinking about the ways that we have not only colonized our minds but our imaginations. How do we decolonize our imaginations? How do we use them in the service of our own well-being or as a form of resistance?

First brought to mainstream attention through the 1989 documentary Paris is Burning, and most recently re-popularized through the hit show Pose, vogue has transcended its origins as a creative and cultural production of disenfranchised Black transgender and gay American youths and catapulted to a global stage. With houses now in places like Paris, Moscow, Tokyo, Mexico City, and Johannesburg, staging a virtual ball not only allows us all to connect in real-time but connect safely in the time of the COVID -19 shelter in place.

The King of Arms Art Ball will continue the tradition of the historic Harlem-originating competitions, but with a twist. The event will feature young queer performers reinterpreting the work of prominent Black queer artists. In the process they will explore contemporary social justice issues and provide space for emerging creatives to showcase their work.

June 14-20 In advance of the live event, the categories will be sent out to houses across the globe via Facebook & Instagram. June 21-27 the confirmed cast of contestants and Zoom rsvp link will be announced. June 28-July 4th we will shoot and post interviews and in-process video content of contestants as they prepare for their respective categories. The material will roll out across various platforms of the Facebook ecosystem (ie. the Facebook event page as well as Instagram, Instagram Live, Instagram stories and Instagram TV). The videos will include interviews between Newsome, the contestants, and various prominent figures in ballroom and the arts, as well as contestants discussing their preparations for the ball and how they feel the categories relate to their lived experience.

Leading up to the ball I will work with an international cohort of performers from across the globe. They will film on green screen their performances and work with my studio; to produce performance videos that will be evaluated by the judges' panel during the ball. The ball will be streamed live on The Shed New York's youtube channel on Friday, July 10th, 2020, at 8 pm EST / 5 pm PDT.

During the live ball a global panel of ballroom legends and leaders in the worlds of art, fashion, music, and activism, will convene via Zoom in my virtual ballroom, which will consist of my animated environments as a background. As the contestants perform, the panel and I will deliberate over who will become the next legends, statements, and stars of the global ballroom scene.

Following the ball a virtual dance party will commence on Instagram Live, hosted by NYC Ballroom commentator and reality TV personality Precious Ebony, with live DJ sets by DJ April Hunt and DJ Mike Q with special guest appearances from members of the cast of the FX television series POSE and HBO MAX television series Legendary.

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About Rashaad Newsome

Rashaad Newsome is an interdisciplinary artist whose work blends several practices, including collage, sculpture, film, photography, music, computer programming, software engineering, and performance, to create an altogether new field. Using the diasporic traditions of improvisation and collage, he pulls from the world of advertising, the internet, Black and Queer culture to produce counter-hegemonic work that walks the tightrope between social practice, abstraction, and intersectionality. Intersectional theory asserts that people are often disadvantaged by multiple sources of oppression: their race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and other identity markers. As a Black queer man from a working-class background, Newsome’s work recognizes that these markers do not exist independently of each other and that each informs the others, often creating a complex convergence of oppression. Using the practice of collage, his work seeks to construct a new cultural framework of power that reclaims the Black body, celebrates Black contributions to the art canon, and creates innovative and inclusive forms of culture and media.

Newsome lives and works in New York City. He was born in 1979 in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he received a BFA in Art History at Tulane University in 2001. In 2004, he received a certificate of study in Digital Post Production from Film/Video Arts Inc. (NYC). In 2005 he studied MAX/MSP Programming at Harvestworks Digital Media Art Center (NYC). He has exhibited and performed in galleries, museums, institutions, and festivals throughout the world including The Studio Museum in Harlem (NYC), The National Museum of African American History and Culture (DC), The Whitney Museum (NYC), Brooklyn Museum (NYC), MoMAPS1 (NYC), SFMOMA (CA), New Orleans Museum of Art (LA), Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), The Garage Center for Contemporary Culture (Moscow), and MUSA (Vienna). Newsome’s work is in numerous public collections including the Studio Museum in Harlem, Whitney Museum of American Art (NYC), The Brooklyn Museum of Art (NYC), The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, McNay Art Museum (TX), The Chazen Museum of Art (WI), National Museum of African American History and Culture (DC) and The New Britain Museum of American Art (CT). In 2010 he participated in the Whitney Biennial (NYC), and in 2011 Greater New York at MoMAPS1 (NYC).

His many honors and awards for his work include a 2019 MAP Fund grant, a 2019 LACMA Art + Technology Lab Grant, a 2019 BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship, a 2018 William Penn Foundation Grant, the 2018/2019 Live Feed Creative Residency at New York Live Arts, a 2017/2018 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, a 2017 Rush Arts Gold Rush Award, the 2016 Artist-in-Residence at the Tamarind Institute, NM, the 2014 Headlands Center for the Arts Visiting Artist Residency, a 2011 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, a 2010 Urban Artist Initiative Individual Artist Grant, and a 2009 Rema Hort Mann Foundation Visual Arts Grant.

Selected Press

Un Framed by Joel Ferree

ARTFORUM by Theadora Walsh

San Fransisco Chronicle by Tony Bravo

W Magazine by Stephanie Eckardt

Village Voice by Jenna Wortham

New York Times by By Laura van Straaten


them. by BY Elyssa Goodman

Pittsburg Current by Amanda Reed


Interview Magazine by Antwaun Sargent

artnet news by Brian Boucher

Created By
Rashaad Newsome