De Pree hosts gallery in remembrance of racism and segregation
In light of recent racial tensions, the timing of the new De Pree gallery, featuring “Hateful Things” and “Resilience,” could not come at a more opportune time. There are two separate exhibitions that “will be on view concurrently in the De Pree Gallery from Aug. 26 through Oct. 7,” Heidi Kraus, Assistant Professor of Art History and Director of The De Pree Gallery, said.
Together, both portions portray the negative effects of the Jim Crow laws and a hopeful outlook for the future. Each piece of artwork has plenty to say, and after soaking it in, leaves an emotional lump in the throat. Saem Cho (’18), who works at the gallery, described how the wall in the middle emphasizes how the exhibitions “are separated physically and metaphorically.”
Viewers are urged to look at “Hateful Things” before moving on to “Resilience.” The Jim Crow law era constitutes a large part of America’s negative past, but it must not be forgotten, as “Hateful Things” displays. Pieces convey sentiments of African American inferiority and unintelligence, and ridicule the race as a whole. It accurately depicts segregation from the past, leaving painful feelings and memories in its place.
“There are a lot of objects in here that are daily-life things, and it’s interesting how racism sneaks into our daily life like a normal game,” Cho said, of a more recent piece that displayed a racist, ghetto version of Monopoly.
While it takes up a much smaller area, the “Resilience” exhibition lets viewers leave on a lighter note and is a “healing factor,” according to Cho. It focuses on the positive aspects we can take away from the past, instead of the pain. One example is a colorful flower, with petals made from irons African American women used on clothing. While there is a lot of history and weight with the topics of slavery and segregation, there is still beauty to be found.
“‘Resilience,’ which I had the pleasure of curating, features world-renowned contemporary African American artists from the Kruizenga Art Museum and a private gallery in Chicago,” Kraus said. “Works in this exhibition, while in conversation with the history of African-American oppression, focus instead on a resilience of spirit and hope for racial equality.”
This joint gallery is an important display for everyone to check out. While it might not be comfortable to recall, Jim Crow laws are part of our country’s past and we cannot afford to ignore what happened. With recent disagreements surrounding law enforcement and African Americans, now might be better than ever for a reminder.
“It would be great if everyone could come and learn a little more about their history,” Cho said in a final statement. Not only that, but the gallery is set up in such a way that one cannot leave without being impacted emotionally.
Although our past and present have rough spots, it is imperative that we remember and recognize all of the details. A forgetful mind does not make room for future change.
The joint gallery is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays from now until Oct. 7. An official opening reception is 6-7:30 p.m. on Friday, September 9.