The Mulvane Art Museum, Washburn University, will present three art exhibitions, Contemporary Reflections: Brown v. Board of Education After Sixty Years, “Teach Your Children Well:” Shane Evans’ Images of African American Resistance and Art for Social Change, to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the Brown v. Board decision and the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. “We are excited to participate in this community conversation about civil and human rights”, says Connie Gibbons, Director for the Mulvane Art Museum. “The artworks in the exhibitions serve as visual “texts”—they have the potential to inform our ideas about a particular event, place, or idea.” The exhibitions will run from March 1-June 8, 2014. An opening reception for the shows will be held on Friday, March 7 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Contemporary Reflections: Brown v. Board of Education After Sixty Years explores the lasting significance of the landmark Supreme Court decision, and features new work by twenty African American artists from Kansas and Kansas City, MO. Representing a variety of viewpoints, some of the artists celebrate the outcomes of the ruling, while others remind us of the tension, intimidation, and violence that ensued as African Americans attempted to integrate white schools. Still others focus on the unintended consequences of integration, such as the loss of community as black children were bussed outside their neighborhoods or the loss of self-esteem among black children when expectations were lower for them in integrated schools. According to Yvette Williams, “I initially thought my artwork would be inspired by the positive changes that took place as a result of the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision. However, although the decision brought about positive changes, it also resulted in a negative impact on the African American community, and therefore I found it necessary to tell our story of loss.” The exhibition includes works by artists of varying ages: some experienced desegregation themselves, while for others it is a fraught history. The art works are in a variety of media, such as paintings, sculpture, textiles, and installations. Julie Myers, curator for the Mulvane says, “Working with these artists has been tremendously moving as they have, through their art, opened up their hearts on a painful, yet ultimately positive part of American history.”
“Teach Your Children Well:” Shane Evans’ Images of African American Resistance showcases the work of renowned Kansas City children’s book illustrator Shane Evans. The exhibition features the original art for the illustrations for Doreen Rappaport’s book Nobody Gonna Turn Me ‘Round: Stories and Songs of the Civil Rights Movement. Fittingly these works focus on the ten turbulent years between the 1954 Brown decision and the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Evans depicts some of the most well known incidents of the Civil Rights Movement, such as Rosa Parks’ refusal to yield her bus seat to a white person. However, the illustrations also focus on the many unrecognized Civil Rights workers, such as those who organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott or taught in Freedom Schools. The exhibition emphasizes the importance of passing our Civil Rights legacy onto this and later generations. Among many other awards, Shane Evans was the winner of the prestigious 2012 Coretta Scott King Book Award and the 2011 NAACP Image Award.
Art for Social Change features works from the Mulvane Art Museum’s permanent collection and from the Spencer Museum of Art that take on some of the major social and political issues of the last one-hundred years. The exhibition is divided into two sections: The 1930s, and The 1960s & Beyond. Not surprisingly, the Great Depression generated a lot of social protest art, and works in the exhibition examine such themes as strikes, breadlines and the deplorable working conditions of miners. Works from the 1960s and beyond explore Civil Rights, women’s rights, gay rights, police brutality, nuclear proliferation, and environmental issues. These thought-provoking works demonstrate the importance of art as an agent for social change.
The Mulvane Art Museum is located at 17th and Jewell Streets on the campus of Washburn University. The hours of the Museum, ArtLab, and Gift Shop are Tuesday 10-7, Wednesday-Friday 10-5, and Saturday and Sunday 1-4.
Admission to the Museum and ArtLab is free and open to the public. Free parking is conveniently located to the west of the Mulvane.
For more information and digital images, please contact Julia R. Myers, Curator, at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also call 785-670-2425, 785-670-2224 or check the website at www.washburn.edu/mulvane.