Art Against Racism Nationwide Art Project
“STRANGE WATER”: This painting by Ebony Flag is part of “Art Against Racism: Memorial.Monument.Movement,” a nationwide virtual exhibition making its debut on October 3. The deadline for artists to submit, in order to be included in the opening, is September 14, but artwork will continue to be accepted until Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021.
Since the killing of George Floyd, artworks protesting Black lives lost to police violence have emerged all over the world. “Art Against Racism: Memorial.Monument.Movement” is a nationwide virtual exhibition created in response to this moment and will be presented on a groundbreaking video platform beginning October 3 at 5 p.m. EST.
“This is a grassroots project welcoming all voices, both professional artists and those who express themselves in other forms,” says Art Against Racism founder and organizer Rhinold L. Ponder.
Contributors are submitting short videos about their projects, discussing why they made this work, how art is a powerful tool for creating a just society, and the urgency of voting in 2020. The interactive exhibition serves as a living archive for preserving the breadth of art inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. The exhibition is searchable by contributor’s name and geographic location.
The deadline for artists to submit, in order to be included in the October 3 opening, is September 14, but artwork will continue to be accepted until Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021. To participate, view the prospectus at sites.rutgers.edu/mmm.
Organized by a New Jersey-based coalition of Black, brown, and white artists, educators, writers, curators, attorneys, journalists, and activists, the project will document and exhibit the outpouring of artwork protesting Black lives lost to police violence that has sprung up across the nation.
“There comes a time when silence is betrayal” – these words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., were inscribed on the sidewalk last June by a young girl, only to be washed away by town officials. The next day, neighbors redrew her words and added many more.
“Community-created art, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, is the powerful voice of history,” says artist/author/educator/curator and organizer Judith K. Brodsky. “We must preserve these expressions of protest and support. “Memorial.Monument.Movement” is how we can prevent erasure and keep these images alive.”
“It’s time,” says artist/organizer Cynthia Groya, in discussing the project objectives. “Time to open the doors of freedom and justice and celebrate Black lives: writers, musicians, artists, scientists, historians, teachers, athletes, military heroes, inventors. Americans who have stood in the shadow for 400 years.”
Art Against Racism’s “Memorial.Monument.Movement,” in partnership with Rutgers University, has invited artists, both individual and in collaborative groups; community organizations; houses of worship; arts organizations, galleries, and museums to participate. The work can take the form of sculpture, projections, street art, quilts, or other fiber works such as crochet or beadwork, culinary creations, spoken word, performance, music, posters, murals, animation, digital projects, crafts, replacements for toppled statues, or other creative forms of expression.
Themes include racism, police violence, mass incarceration, African American historical figures or moments, murdered and martyred victims of racism and white supremacy, civil rights, and community needs that have been affected by systemic racism.
The concept for “Memorial.Monument.Movement” originated in a conversation between Ponder and Brodsky about building on the success of his project, Art Against Racism, created in 2019 as a series of exhibitions. Ponder has had a long career as a lawyer and educator as well as being an artist. Brodsky is a professor emerita at Rutgers University, and also an artist who, beginning with the Feminist Art movement of the 1970s, has worked for social justice.
Enthusiasm for the project spread and attracted additional committee members: Kimberly Camp, one of the first African American women to hold the directorship of an important visual arts institution (she was director of the Barnes Foundation); Nancy Shell, a well-known Philadelphia artist; and Isabel Nazario, who first came to Rutgers as founding director of the Rutgers Latino Center for Arts and Culture and is now associate vice president of Strategic Initiatives at Rutgers University.
Cynthia Groya, a major contributor to the arts community in the Princeton/Trenton area, through artwork/films focusing on social justice themes and through volunteer work at the Princeton University Art Museum and regional social service institutions, joins Ilene Dube, arts journalist/curator/documentary filmmaker whose focus is on the artists of central New Jersey — she writes for national art media such as Hyperallergic; Andre Veloux, a Princeton-based artist whose work with Legos focuses on gender equality and women’s rights and has been exhibited throughout the country; and Mary Oestereicher Hamill, a socially engaged artist/educator and curator at Princeton University’s Bernstein Gallery, in developing this Art Against Racism living national archive.
Tune in to sites.rutgers.edu/mmm beginning on October 3, 5 p.m., to experience the livestream opening reception for Art Against Racism’s “Memorial.Monument.Movement.”