And Still We Rise: Art for Transformation

Banner Art (detail): Renee Westbrook

Appearing in "Children=Hope," this work evokes the dreams of a young boy fast approaching an early crossroad in his life. He averts his eyes as doves of peace circle behind him. The patterns and palette of the structure in the distance suggest perhaps a church, at minimum, a haven for building community and supporting him as he prepares to step into the future. He is at an early crossing.
Ekua Holmes, "Crossing," Glicee print, 11 3/4" x 11 3/4." From the exhibition "Children=Hope: Violence Transformed," 2011, Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists

Exhibition Dates:
July 5-August 16, 2021

Exhibition Co-Curators:
Edmund Barry Gaither and Jonathan Shirland

Community Partners Represented:
- Copley Place, Center Court
- Massachusetts State House
- Museum of the National Center
of Afro-American Artists

Co-Curators' Statement

For a decade and a half, Violence Transformed has proffered the conviction that creative activities such as artmaking are vital to overcoming the traumas of violence and rebuilding personal and social wholeness. Shared within a rich community of institutions and individuals, this conviction took form as an annualized series of events - exhibitions, performances, and workshops - open to the public and distributed throughout the region. Linking hospitals, art schools, academic teaching institutions, museums, and centers of political and judicial authority, Violence Transformed created bridges between communities across racial, cultural, economic, and political boundaries, and called on citizens of all generations to cross them. The variety of institutional and individual participants evinced the power of the original empowering concept. Simultaneously, it modeled the type of striving that lies at the heart of community-building.

In this context, art historians Edmund Barry Gaither and Jonathan Shirland provided curatorial expertise for many exhibitions presented by Violence Transformed, especially those displayed at the Massachusetts State House and at Copley Place. Additionally, Gaither has been primarily responsible for Violence Transformed exhibitions shown at the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists in Roxbury. Some of the same works have appeared in both settings.

In the exhibition "And Still We Rise: Art for Transformation" herewith assembled, Gaither and Shirland have brought together and annotated a wide spectrum of art with direct and indirect affinity with the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, presented between 2008 and 2019 in a variety of spaces and locations. These works represent some of the finest artists active in our region; artists whose work testifies to the many perspectives that mediate between righteous anger and blossoming self-consciousness, between protest in the streets and the promise of new birth. Their art argues that transformation lies not in simple resilience, but rather, in the creative commitment to make a future. In the end, our hope shared by the curators is that beyond showcasing stellar art, the exhibitions will encourage those who have suffered violence in all its forms to see that their own creativity holds the secret to their future. With that conviction, every tomorrow is an opportunity to rise from victim to actor in one’s own life.

Image Gallery