Northwestern University Chicago Block Museum of Art showcases the Black Lives Matter movement, anti-black violence including lynching
The exhibit covers anti-lynching campaigns from the 1890s through to the founding of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2013.
“I hope the art will give people a chance to pause and really understand the deep roots of racial violence in our country,” said Janet Dees, the exhibit’s curator.
The exhibit features Chicago artists like Kerry James Marshall. In his work, “Heirlooms and Accessories,” Marshall found an image of a 1930s Indiana double lynching that included three white women in the crowd. The artist put women’s faces in cameos to symbolize their role as murder props. The artwork highlights how racism has been passed down from generation to generation as a family heirloom.
“Part of what this work does is to take the focus off the victims of this violence and shine a light on the perpetrators and the bystanders,” Dees said.
Some parts of the exhibition are accompanied by a disclaimer due to graphic content.
The museum has areas where people can walk away and decompress if they are overwhelmed with emotion.
“There is a big part of our history that is painful,” she said.
Dees points out that this exhibit was for years and not in response to the 2020 racial protests.
“It underscores how stories of racial violence have been part of our country’s history and our art history for so long,” she said.
This exhibit debuts amid a national debate about how Americans should discuss issues of race in schools.
“We have an active authoritarian movement where at least one of the major parties is working to erase America’s racial history with book bans and anti-critical discourse on race theory,” he said. said Alvin Tillery, director of the Center for the Study of Diversity & Democracy. at Northwestern University.
Tillery said exhibits like this are so important.
“It is impossible to erase these images of the painful truth of American race relations and anti-black violence,” he said. “It’s really meaningful.”
Dees thinks this exhibit could inspire people to take action, addressing racial inequalities of the present that are rooted in the past.
“In embracing change, we have to think not only about the kind of policies and laws, but also how you connect with people’s hearts and minds. And I think art is a way of us connect with hearts and minds,” she said. .
“A Site of Struggle” runs until July 10.
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