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BLM Exhibition continues the conversation

February 17, 2017

Michelle Ravel / The Courier - Artwork titled “Isolation” by AP Studio 2D Design student at Oswego East High School.

Black Lives Matter has been an important topic of discussion in recent months, especially on Monmouth College campus. A collaborative effort between Oswego East High School and the college led to an art exhibit that adds to that conversation. The Black Lives Matter Exhibition can be found in Hewes Library Gallery 203. The exhibit showcases pieces from 20 Oswego East students and five Monmouth College students.

This idea came about from Laura Cavanaugh, a 1986 Monmouth alum, who now teaches art at Oswego East High School. The AP English class and AP Studio classes did a project together. Their assignment was to come up with a contemporary idea that they could do research about and address.

“They did a lot of research and it shows in their work. Their pieces would not be as thoughtful as they are if not for the student’s investment into the topic” explained Stacy Lotz, Monmouth art professor.

The Oswego East students’ pieces were never originally intended to end up in Monmouth’s gallery. Through causal discussion Cavanaugh decided to ask Lotz if a collaboration could happen. This idea was a no brainer to Lotz and came together in just a few short weeks. The Oswego East students were excited about the exhibit and came to campus to help with the installation of their artworks.

While Monmouth College art students were included, the focus of the BLM Exhibition was always on the high school students. Lotz reaffirmed this telling the Oswego East students, “This show is about you. It’s about your work and about your ideas.”

To kick off the exhibit, which runs until February 28, there was a reception on February 3 where all the students were there to talk about their pieces with the 100 attendees. “The whole purpose of the show was to create a dialogue and continue this conversation. This exhibit gives them an outlet. It allows them to realize that the artwork they are making and the ideas they have are worth sharing,” said Lotz. The BLM Exhibition was received well by those who attended the reception.

Lotz knew which Monmouth students had artwork that addressed the issue and could add to the exhibit. Theses students include seniors Hayden Fulfer, Shoshana McClarence, and Kendall Thompson; juniors Lily Guillen and Rubi Nogueron; and freshmen Chelsee Nava.

The collaboration did not end with Oswego East High School and Monmouth College. Help from Mary Phillips from permanent collections and Lynn Daw from the library archives added to the pieces that can be found within the exhibit.

While everything came together so quickly, Lotz and the MC students realized the potential for more exhibits on this topic, which are being considered for the future. This is especially true due to the impact the BLM Exhibition has already had on campus since opening. “These conversations have happened already but the focus of the conversation has never been around artwork. This is just a different way to open up genuine conversation,” suggested Lotz.

Miranda Jones
Co-Editor in Chief

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