A Study in Rhyme & Song

52 3Arts supporters
$5,175 raised of $5,000 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on May 11, 2017
    • 104% contributed

A Study in Rhyme & Song is a mobile exhibition project with accompanying performance elements that draws upon research about sound-system culture, minstrel songs, and vaudeville traditions. At its core, I want to explore the history and continuing legacy of social music, particularly children’s nursery rhymes that are so engrained in the public psyche that they continue to perpetuate colonial themes, othering, and violence against marginalized communities. Because this subject is rich and expansive, I decided to focus on one song, "Ten Little Indians." Originally a minstrel show tune, the song has been re-adapted into a popular children’s nursery rhyme that has been used as a tool to teach children how to count and learn English as a second language. Through my field research, I found it was a song that has touched and is remembered by at least five generations and is still internationally circulated in contemporary culture. Beyond colonial nostalgia, I believe the song’s history is directly connected to the circulating xenophobic practices still relevant today in our socialized society, academia, and entertainment. With this project, I’m raising funds to create a series of sound sculptures, audio collages, choreographed work, and videos that offer a critical perspective to the notion of social terrorism through the lens of children’s rhymes and songs. Through this mobile exhibition project, I will tour the performance as a circulating intervention in public spaces. 

About This Project

"Ten Little Indians," originally written and performed as minstrel show in the late 19th to mid 20th centuries, was heard internationally through minstrel circuits from America to Europe. Written by Septimus Winner, the song celebrates the violent deaths of little black and brown boys through lyrics that begin with “Ten little injuns went out to dine; One choked his little self, and then there were nine.” Today, you can still find versions of the nursery rhyme adaptation across the world.

As a popular form of theater and musical performance, the minstrel show has been instrumental in contributing to social music that is now part of our public domain. In looking at music in the public domain, there is a long history that shows colonial thought and violent acts against marginalized communities as entertainment. This music is available for fair use, thus allowing one to adapt lyrics to a song and continue to circulate ideas. Within that public space for creation there exists "a violence of participation" associated with performance of these lyrics and this melody.

For A Study in Rhyme & Song, I want to confront the history of media representation in education and entertainment. One piece in the project will be Easy Listening, a sound sculpture consisting of 10 sets of 5 custom-made toy records that are 3D-printed and compatible to play on Fisher Price Record Players. These sound sculptures are activated by performers and played for audiences to listen along.

The series Then There Were None will be composed of an audio collage, choreographed movement, and a video montage. Utilizing movie soundtracks, television shows, audio recordings, children’s kindergarten song recordings, and vintage records, the series will remix and rework this material. The piece will function as a sound installation played to congruent choreographed movement that explores themes of the school-to-prison pipeline, gun culture in America, social justice hashtags, masculinity and queer culture, and comic relief as a durational performance. The final layer of the project will feature a video montage that provides cultural and historical references from films and television shows, books, card and board games, ephemera, and online material.

As an artist and educator, I am most interested in exploring institutional structures that continue to perpetuate violence through participation. I see this project as a tool for building a more universal language using sound, video, and performance to communicate ideas beyond colonial nostalgia. In its early creation, it has been a platform to mobilize critical thought and question the need for identity legibility within the very traditions that had reinforced marginalization.

With funds donated to this campaign, I will work with builders to design and create a mobile sound system that will tour all components of A Study in Rhyme & Song throughout Chicago playgrounds, parks, and lakefronts as a free program. Looking at public space as a place for recreation and intervention, I will hold related workshops and collaborate with local performers and choreographers to create site-specific and site-responsive performances. 

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $25
    Personal thank you on social media and permanent acknowledgement on website ($25.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Above, plus your name acknowledged in program brochures ($50.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    Above, plus a personal invitation to public performances ($100.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    Above, plus one signed copy of a custom audio collage on CD (limited to 10) ($200.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    Above, plus a studio tour of upcoming projects, and invitation to private tours of upcoming exhibitions (limited to 3) ($450.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $1000
    Above, plus a private performance (limited to 5) ($500.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $1500
    Above, plus five custom 3-D printed toy records and Fisher Price Record Player (limited to 1) ($1000.00 is tax deductible.)

Sadie Woods

Make a Wave Artist

Sadie Woods is an award winning post-disciplinary artist, independent curator, and deejay. Her work focuses primarily on social movements, liberatory practices, cultural memory, and producing collaborations within communities of difference. She also deejays under the moniker Afrodjia, focusing on diasporic …

View Sadie Woods's profile
  • Update 1: THANK YOU!!
    Posted on April 12, 2017


    THANK YOU for your support of A Study in Rhyme & Song!!! Your contributions are meaningful to the expansion of this project, I could not do this without you! It is great to have you be a part of this journey.

    In the meantime, here is A Study in Rhyme & Song as performed outdoors at 6018North's Water Music on the Beach sound festival last September. More to come!

    Update 2: We're Getting Closer!!
    Posted on April 28, 2017


    We're getting closer to our goal!

    Thank you Aram Han Sifuentes, Avery Young, Jaclyn Jacunski, Emily Green, Antonia Contro, Lydia Ross, Sarah Hoskins, Norman Teague, Rick Woods, Ahazi Dismukes, La Keisha Leek, Melissa Farruggia, Theo Germaine, Meg Duguid, Marissa Benedict, Scott Lundius, Jon Satrom, Emily Reusswig, Veronica Casado Hernandez, Dana Bassett, and most recent contributors Erin McDougald, Katie Dowling, Aimee Wertepny, Sabina Ott, Mark Jeffery, Carlos Torres, Tina Walker, and Alicia Silva for your support!

    Update 3: 3 Days left!! Almost there!
    Posted on May 08, 2017


    Thank you Sabba Elahi, Melissa Whitwell, Ruth Guerra, Tirtza Even, Zac Rivera, and Steve Wang for your contributions!! Appreciate you all being a part of this project. 85% there!! 3 days to go.


    Update 4: We did it!!
    Posted on May 11, 2017


    Thank you Yaw Agyeman, Tricia Van Eck, Carole McCurdy, Mashaun Ali Hendricks, John Rivera, Coya Paz, Tara Branham, Tiffany Holmes, Myles Gillespie, Tonika Johnson, Leonard Suryajaya, and Caswell James for your contributions. WE DID IT! Goal has been made.

    Update 5: A Study in Rhyme & Song: Ten Little Indians at SUBMISSION
    Posted on June 14, 2017


    Dear Collaborators, 

    Thank you for your continued support of A Study in Rhyme & Song.

    Next Friday, June 23rd, I will be premiering "A Study in Rhyme & Song" exhibition project at The Sub-Mission. The exhibition will center around the song "Ten Little Indians," featuring sound installation and sculptural works, as well as selections from my research achive. Please join me for the opening reception from 6-9pm.

    For more information, please visit http://themissionprojects.com/exhibition/102/astudyinrhymesong.

    More soon!

    Update 6: A Study in Rhyme & Song Exhibition Opening This Friday
    Posted on October 02, 2017


    Dear Collaborators, 

    Hope this finds you in great spirits. A Study in Rhyme & Song is well underway. We've got a design for the mobile sound system and are in the building stages. More info and images to come!

    This week, A Study in Rhyme & Song: From Minstrel Show Tune to Children's Rhyme exhibition will be opening this Friday, October 6th, at Roman Susan Gallery, 1224 West Loyola Ave,  from 6:00-9:00pm. I will be presenting perofrmance Then There Were None on Friday, October 13, at Loyola Redline, 1200 West Loyola, from 7:00-8:00pm. It would be great to share the progress of this project in person. Join me!

    Visit romansusan.org for more information. 


    All best,


    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Nicholl Terzich

    • Aram Han Sifuentes

    • Avery Young

    • Jaclyn Jacunski

    • Emily Green

    • Antonia Contro

    • Lydia Ross

    • sarah hoskins

    • Norman Teague

    • Rick Woods

    • Ahazi Dismukes

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • La Keisha Leek

    • Melissa Farruggia

    • theo germaine

    • Meg Duguid

    • Marissa Benedict

    • Scott Lundius

    • Jon Satrom

    • Emily Reusswig

    • veronica casado hernandez

    • Dana Bassett

    • Erin McDougald

    • Katie Dowling

    • Aimee Wertepny

    • sabina ott

    • mark jeffery

    • Carlos Torres

    • Rick Woods

    • Tina Walker

    • Alicia Silva

    • Emmanuel Nony

    • Sabba Elahi

    • Melissa Whitwell

    • Ruth Guerra

    • Tirtza Even

    • Zac Rivera

    • Steven Wang

    • Yaw Agyeman

    • Tricia Van Eck

    • Tricia Van Eck

    • Carole McCurdy

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Mashaun Ali Hendricks

    • John Rivera

    • Coya Paz

    • Tara Branham

    • Tiffany Holmes

    • Myles Gillespie

    • Tonika Johnson

    • Leonard Suryajaya

    • Caswell James

make it work


3AP Presenting Partner:

  Joyce Logo

 Additional support provided by: 

Department of Cultural Affairs logo  Illinois Arts Council