The Rubin Museum of Art is devoted to exhibition and discussion of Himalayan art in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. Their collection boasts pieces from Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and Mongolia dating from the last 1500 years. The presentation is sleek and modern to better set off the bright colors and intricacies of the pieces on display. To better position itself as a cultural center, the Rubin offers live events on everything from spirituality and meditation to cabaret cinema and a dance club night in their lounge. The “Naked Soul” series presents musicians performing completely acoustically – not even a microphone to carry their voices is allowed. The musician must also select pieces from the Rubin’s collection and relate the meaning of the work to their own music and personal journey. In a small basement room seating approximately 100 fans, Dar Williams took to the stage with just her guitar and a glass of water and spent an hour singing and telling stories spanning her life and career.
Williams interwove her storytelling with four pieces of artwork. She included a 19th Century representation of the female deity Tara and explained Tara’s ability to remove one’s fear of obstacles rather than removing the obstacles themselves. She then discussed her time in New England and her love of the region, yet also her need to move home to New York before playing “Spring Street.” Williams later presented a 10th Century sculpture of Shiva or Parvati while discussing the diverse roles all people must play among their many relations (her examples: musician, traveler, mother, wife, etc.). She used this as an introduction to “The One Who Knows,” a parent’s ode to her growing child.
Not all aspects of the show were quite so serious. Williams was full of good humor and cracked jokes in her storytelling, and also performed the funny and sweet crowd favorite, “The Babysitter’s Here,” as well as “Emerald,” the title track of her new album.
For more information about Dar Williams and the Rubin Museum, check out the links below.
Dar Williams’ Music: http://darwilliams.com/releases/music/
The Rubin Museum of Art / Naked Soul Series: http://rubinmuseum.org/events/series/naked-soul