Reflections of the Black Experience: Featuring Arkansas Artists and the 1619 Project
Reflections of The Black Experience, as an art collection, is reflective of the African diaspora to the modern-day Black experience in America by myself and amazing local and regional artists: Brian Elenbarger, Marzelle Williams, Gregory Janicke, Nick Palmer, and Leona Hunter-Wade, Joëlle Storet, Jim Johnson, Shelley Mouber, Karen Wagaman, Samuel Hale, and DeShon McBride. The exhibit features visual excerpts of the ground-breaking 1619 Project lead by Nikole Hannah-Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter covering racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine and creator of the landmark 1619 Project.
The 1619 Project, the New York Times Magazine interactive project lead by award-winning investigative reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, with contributions by the paper’s writers, including essays, poems, short fiction, and a photo essay, is described as, “an ongoing initiative that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”
This specially curated exhibit is building upon the idea—conceived by Gwen Kelly—of introducing The 1619 Project to a broader Northwest Arkansas community. Kelly, a veteran marketing executive, and diversity, equity, and inclusion strategist, said, “The opportunity to have an important conversation regarding culture and race against the backdrop of Black artistic expression is foundational in addressing many the many racial challenges being faced today by American society as a whole.”
Serena Barnett, Director for the Rogers Historical Museum, was instrumental in ensuring a home for the special exhibit beyond the Art Walk, from February 29 – March 31, 2020, in the Trammel Gallery at the Hailey Building, as well as hosting the artist talk-back. “The Rogers Historical Museum is pleased for the opportunity to join with other community organizations in an effort to share an in-depth dialog leading to a greater knowledge of our past. We believe this collaborative exhibit and event will help strengthen our community to build a more unified future for us all.” Covid-19 halted the public viewing indefinitely, but the Rogers Historical Museum has generously offered a home to the exhibit until the end of February 2021.