Hickory Museum of Art

Photograph courtesy of the Hickory Museum of Art

n one large gallery space in the Hickory Museum of Art, a 10-by-75-foot  canvas marks the start of the museum’s latest project — an effort to promote social justice and reform in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

The canvas — which was blank until recently — stretches along an entire wall. Community members will be able to use the canvas to express their thoughts and feelings surrounding Black Lives Matter and social and racial justice through artistic expression, Museum Executive Director Jon Carfagno said.

“The project really represents our commitment to listening, learning and doing more while also amplifying the voice of everyone who calls for an end to systemic racism and for social justice,” he said.

With COVID-19 closing the museum and forcing it to rearrange and move planned exhibitions, the museum found itself with space available in its Coe Gallery through the fall. Originally, the team thought they would create an exhibit relating to the pandemic, and ask the community to share how they find comfort and solace during the time of isolation and uncertainty.

Then, the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May happened, sparking a nationwide civil rights movement of Black Lives Matter and racial justice protests and demonstrations that still carry on.

Carfagno knew the museum had a role to play in its own community.

“Our exhibition team knew we needed to help,” he said. “We said, ‘We really need to open our gallery to be a safe space.’ … We really believe that art can be an amazing portal for new conversations and new ways to see the world.”

They changed their plan for the Coe Gallery, instead deciding to use the 750-square-foot canvas to invite the community to submit ideas for the piece.

“The response was just so overwhelmingly positive,” Carfagno said.

Several artists are already painting — one at a time to allow for social distancing — and eventually, they hope to have the entire canvas full, Carfagno said.

People have also submitted poetry, and one one children’s art group may participate, he said. Any level of artist is welcome.

Read the full article here.

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