As you may have realized from my previous posts, I am curating a public art show this summer called RACE AND REVOLUTION that looks at the roots of racism by pairing contemporary artworks with the language of historical documents. Throughout the last couple of weeks I have offered snapshots of the nine artists involved. In weeks to come, you will learn much more about who they are and what inspires their work.
For now I feel it is important to share why I want to do this show, as in why me. The obvious answer is racism affects all of us. If you are not convinced this is true, turn on the news. The rise of Donald Trump is not happening by accident. His supporters have been waiting in the shadows for generations. He has merely given them permission to step out into the light. Second, an innate curiosity has always guided me to read, and read, and read. It’s hard to describe what books and words mean to me. What I can say is if I read a beautifully written or profound passage, a fire is ignited inside of me. I will flip the words over and over in my head, afraid to let them go.
It was a combination of my curiosity and my love of books that led me down the road of reading for social justice. Because I worked at a history museum, I read books about the Civil War. This led me to wonder and then read about the period of RECONSTRUCTION that came after the war. Then I wanted to know what happened after the failed Reconstruction, what we commonly call the Jim Crow era, but what I learned was so much deeper and more painful than what I had known, and the SUPREME COURT was at fault. So my question to myself became if the US Government has continually allowed for systematic oppressions, when did this start and how do we hold it accountable?
Through all of this I came to believe that acts of dominance that Europeans committed when they arrived in North America – acts that they got away with – have created this system of dominance and destruction. I started thinking about how to use historical primary source documents that explicitly state or describe such acts. If the language of the documents is irrefutable it becomes impossible to deny.
It has been both enlightening and deeply upsetting to find such documents in the LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, and this process has taught me so much more about the early years of United States. If you are interested in learning more about the books and documents I have found, please comment, and I will share them with you. I am hoping this public art show approaches the discussion of racism in a way that inspires a change of thought. Please help make it a possibility by DONATING HERE.