It is very easy for anyone to become desensitized (or worse, paralyzed) after a season of troubling news stories complete with images that depict young black men like Jordan Davis, Tamir Rice, Jordan Crawford, Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and Eric Garner, who were all gunned down in our nation's streets, often for very suspect reasons.
These images have granted each of us an unexpected front row seat via our handhelds and televisions. Many do become numb to it and change the channel but others, like Holland's CultureWorks Gallery, are seeking to present a meaningful platform to discuss the matter.
As a photographer, I am reminded that an image is not the end of our journey, but in fact its representation is our starting point. CultureWorks of Holland understands this, too, and is inviting the public to join them for a panel discussion at the closing reception of its #BlackLivesMatter exhibition – a body of works created by artists in reaction to these news events.
"These (art) works from Ferguson/St. Louis, Detroit, and New York City- cities that have become epicenters of this movement- respond to this statement by not only reflecting on these tragedies but by celebrating and commemorating specific black lives whose contributions have had a personal and profound impact on the artists," says Tori Pelz curator of #BlackLivesMatter.
The gallery panel is made up of artists and scholars who will be addressing the idea #BlackLivesMatter and how it impacts our culture.
The list of panelists include:
George Bayard is founder of Bayard Gallery of Fine African American Art, West Michigan’s largest gallery devoted to artists of color. Bayard serves on boards including the Public Museum of West Michigan Collections, Grand Rapids Symphony, Jim Crow Museum, Arts Mid-West, and Grand Rapids Arts Advisory Board.
Dr. Fred Johnson III is Associate Professor of History at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. His primary field of study is 19th Century U.S. History, specifically, the Civil War. Dr. Johnson coauthored the biography Tupac Shakur: the Life and Times of an American Icon and is currently researching the book America’s Blind Spot: U.S. Foreign Policy in Africa, 1945 –present.
Eno Laget is a Detroit-based street artist currently exhibiting CultureWorks’ #BlackLivesMatter exhibit. Fashioned from humble materials of spray paint, discarded newsprint and hand-cut stencils, his graphic street posters are steeped in a sense of place and respond to the city’s bruised history.
Dr. Jack Mulder is Professor of Philosophy at Hope College and specializes in topics of race, religion, and ethics.