Annie Lennox imagined a mound. A large earthen mound revealing pieces of her past she couldn’t let go. People would be invited to view these fragments, to learn about them, and, she hopes, to understand her beyond her musicianship. Perhaps they would find a connection to themselves.

“I knew that I couldn’t just let them go, just throw them away, give them away. I didn’t know how I was ever going to do that, but then I figured it out. It had to be something ritualized. It’s very emotional, because I’m not trying to make a career out it; I’m making an installation. It’s imbued with my life.”

What she has envisioned will become an exhibition, “Now I Let You Go …” to be unveiled May 25 at MASS MoCA. And Lennox will hold a talk and performance to mark the museum’s 20th-anniversary season.

“This is a statement of a lifetime,” says Lennox, who, only a few days earlier, had been in Cape Town. She had just arrived in North Adams and viewed the mound for the first time, planning to work on it over the next ten days.

This exhibition is precisely what makes MASS MoCA uniquely MASS MoCA: Artists of all disciplines have the space and time to achieve focus to create their art. Lennox is known to many as an award-winning Scottish singer-songwriter, political activist and advocate, half of the former Eurythmics. She is also founder of The Circle, an organization working to support and empower women and girls’ lives.

“When people see me, and if they know my music, they might think they know me but they don’t. They connect at a very deep level with the music,” says Lennox. “It’s accompanied people through their love affairs and their losses—their celebrations and their darkest hours. A bond is there.”

Lennox had long wanted to expand her visual art beyond performance, costume, and video. “I never dared because I always thought that crossing into this art world, I may be such an outlier that I might not be welcome. But Joe has been so welcoming of me,” says Lennox of Joseph Thompson, director of MASS MoCA. She first visited the contemporary art museum in North Adams when she received an honorary degree from Williams College in 2013. “I actually wrote him an email years later and describing to him what I wanted to do, and the funny thing is that he understood it immediately. He wrote back and said let’s have a conversation over the phone, and he was asking me questions about it and I thought, he understands what I want to do. He gets it. He doesn’t think I’m crazy, he doesn’t think it’s a hubristic idea. This place allows artists to materialize their dreams, and that just moved me so much.”

As a child, Lennox haunted the art gallery in Aberdeen, Scotland, and spent countless hours looking at the paintings. In the last year of school, she took up art as a subject, studied it intensely, did well, and wanted to keep painting and drawing. But she could only do one thing, and she chose music. Then in the late-1990s, Lennox visited an exhibition at the Royal Academy called “Sensation,” the collection of contemporary art owned by Charles Saatchi, including many works by Young British Artists. “After I went through the show, I felt—I’m like them. I felt connected to how they were expressing things, but I’m a singer songwriter. Oh, but you can’t be in their art world. So I had to let it go. I didn’t think I could pursue it.”

But she is. This ceremonial earthen mound will contain her daughters’ baby toys and shoes, her mother’s reading glasses, instruments, an old family photo of her maternal grandmother’s family—more than 150 objects, partially revealed. Visitors will receive an archeological field guide, her writings, and a map.

Also in this mound are articles of her travel in Africa, an important piece of Lennox’s life, a link to her global feminism. “I’ve lived a life through a lens of being a young girl, and being an adult woman, and being a mother, and an older woman. I’ve lived through these stages being a woman, and I’ve traveled and seen women’s lives and have understood and thought a great deal of what it is to be a woman and a woman’s place is in this world and what the possibilities can be and what the values are.”

Was it a challenge to select the items to be in the mound? “Yes and no. Yes and no. It’s funny, a lot of answers are like that. Yes and no. In a way, it was obvious what needed to go. It was very obvious. And then on the other hand, not so much. I came up here a few weeks ago, and we had photographs of everything. What simplified it was having photocopies of all the items, and I laid everything out and it was an intuitive selection, and I thought: This is it. And I numbered every single item, and kind of grouped them 1 to 10.

“There was a sort of chaos in this, and that was so hard for me to deal with. I like order. I think many of us do. Chaos is so hard. Life is so chaotic, and so we find that we kind of need to put some kind of order into chaos. And that’s what creativity is all about. It’s about selecting things that you are intrigued with and almost representing them with your own slant, your own interpretation.”

And then, letting them go.

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