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Room is an interactive multimedia installation, performance, and speculative retelling of historical narratives inspired by the lives of three women, enslaved in colonial America. The project, developed by Marisa Williamson during her residency at SPACES, is a variation on the pop culture “escape room” phenomenon offering players the opportunity to compete against the clock to solve puzzles using clues, hints, and strategy.

This multi-disciplinary platform provides cross-historical and contemporary context for considering the lives of three extraordinary women: Phillis Wheatley, Tituba of Salem Village, and Sally Hemings. The details of their lives are unique, but not widely known or even knowable. Yet, as black women in colonial America, enslaved for the majority or entirety of their lives, the challenges they faced can be assumed to share some common themes. Room takes up these themes - blackness, privilege, genealogies of resistance, and the possibility of escape - as they may, or may not be compatible with the escape room structure, rules, and form.

Room: Live Lessons & Game Play

Thursday, July 11th | Saturday, July 13th | Thursday, July 18th | 6pm, 7:30pm

Viewers are encouraged to RSVP for one of the following interactive experiences in the gallery. Please note, space is limited and reservations are required.


Room is a collaboration between artist, Marisa Williamson, and scholar, Sarah Jessica Johnson. Sarah Jessica Johnson is a Provost's Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English at the University of Chicago. Her current book project explores how historical marronage is represented in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, reading particularly for how the strategies and practices of individual maroons shape archival and fictional texts. Her work examines francophone and anglophone U.S. and Caribbean texts. Room incorporates the research, scholarship, and creative work of Johnson as well as University of Chicago students enrolled in the class titled Black in Colonial America: Three Women, developed by Johnson alongside this project.

Room is a design collaboration between Marisa Williamson, and designer, Lauren Williams. Williams is a Detroit-based designer, researcher, and writer who works with visual and interactive media to understand, critique, and reimagine the ways in which social and economic systems distribute and exercise power. Her work seeks to expose and unsettle power and often prioritizes engaging people through design in service of imagining and manifesting a more equitable present and future. Lauren is currently an adjunct associate professor at ArtCenter College of Design. She received her MFA from ArtCenter College of Design and BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Room is a performance collaboration with performance artists Latecia Delores Wilson, Andrea Belser, and Martinique Mims. Learn more about those artists on the Room: Live Lessons & Game Play event page.

About the Artist

Marisa Williamson

Marisa Williamson is a New Jersey-based artist who works in video, installation and performance around themes of history, race, feminism, and technology. She has created site-specific works at and in collaboration with the University of Virginia, Mural Arts Philadelphia, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Storm King Art Center, and the Metropolitan Museum... go to artist page

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