Art exhibit showcases race relations history at DeKalb
The DeKalb County History Center and the Ellwood House Museum are hosting a virtual art exhibit.
DeKALB – The DeKalb County History Center and the Ellwood House Museum have collaborated on a virtual exhibit titled “Arts in Action,” investigating the history of race relations in DeKalb County through the works of nine visual artists and five poets.
The project covers the often overlooked perspectives and experiences of Black and Latin residents of DeKalb during the 20th century. It does this through the prism of four themes: fear, exclusion, community and hope.
Tours of the online exhibit are offered by both organizations and are led by Michelle Donahoe, Executive Director of the DeKalb County History Center, and Brian Reis, Executive Director of the Ellwood House Museum.
“It’s important because it’s a story we’ve never shared before,” Donahoe said. “We present the story. We are hearing voices of people we have never heard before, and it shows us that we have a lot of work to do.
Darius Jackson, founding member of the poetry group Four poets, a microphone, spoke of the need for programs like Arts in Action.
“I think it’s imperative to show the story, to let us know what life was like in DeKalb in the 1920s,” Jackson said. “It’s very important because not many people read the story, so having a way to display that historical context of where we were in DeKalb, to display it in an artistic way, is what draws the attention from everyone. “
Jackson also explained the importance of providing students and artists with an outlet for their diverse perspectives and works of art.
“The whole project, its concept, I think it was ingenious, to be able to give students the opportunity to show off and show themselves through their talents, but also by telling an important story,” Jackson said. .
Funding for the Arts in Action project was provided through a publicly funded program Illinois Healing Scholarship intended to begin or continue racial healing work in Illinois.
“Our portion of the grant was $ 5,000, and we chose to use those funds for stipends for each of the artists, so we basically offered them $ 500 each to participate in the project,” Reis said. “It was just to encourage them to continue their efforts to do this work in the area of social justice.”
An in-person exhibit is slated for spring 2022 at the organizations’ two locations.
“We look forward to when we can have this exhibit in person,” Donahoe said. “We’re looking forward to spring 2022, and obviously it’s easier to have these discussions in person.”
Donahoe said the organizations are planning a six-week exhibition that will include the works of art at the History Center and the Ellwood House.
The Virtual Arts in Action exhibition is available on the Ellwood Museum website website. The curators of the exhibit encourage feedback from the community, and anyone interested in sharing their stories regarding race relations in the DeKalb community can do so through the project. survey.
For more information on the exhibit, contact Michelle Donahoe at [email protected].