This fall, I was honored to spend time in Charleston, South Carolina, and to take part in three arts-focused events.
On the evening of October 1, the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art hosted a conversation between me and local visual artist Colin Quashie. The museum is currently exhibiting Quashie’s latest series, titled Linked, in which the artist “juxtaposes images of well-known Black figures with other representations of artifacts to comment on stereotypes as they exist today.” The discussion covered a range of topics within that vast arena, including the meaning of monuments, their impact on our public spaces and what it would mean to remove those figures.
A few weeks later on October 29, I participated in a Halsey Talk—part of an ongoing series of discussions hosted by the museum around converging issues and topics within art. Led by the museum’s manager of exhibits and programs, Bryan Watson Granger, the theme of the night was “Art and Activism.” The Make It Right Project has made arts activism a centerpiece of our work, and the conversation began by looking back at some of the most powerful arts interventions we’ve employed in multiple genres and disciplines. We also discussed some other examples of artists using their work to create—or at the very least, nudge—social change. Many thanks to the attendees, who made this a genuinely compelling discussion.
On November 12—following a delay caused by Hurricane Dorian—I finally got to take part in Charleston’s 35th annual PechaKucha Conference. This year’s event was part of the Charleston Arts Festival and held at the Charleston Music Hall. PechaKucha (Japanese for “chit chat”) is a super-short-form storytelling format that invites speakers to present on pretty much any topic of interest—provided they show 20 images, and speak for just 20 seconds while each picture appears. I talked about the long and often hidden history of Black resistance to racist monuments in Charleston.
Thanks so much to everyone at the Halsey, particularly Bryan Watson Granger and museum Director and Chief Curator Mark Sloan. Thanks also to Charleston Arts Festival Co-Founder and PechaKucha Artist Liaison Terry Fox; Charleston Music Hall Executive Director Charles Carmody; and everyone who took part in this year’s event.
Director of the Make It Right Project