Black History Month: Reflections of The Black Experience at The Rogers Experimental House and The Rogers Historical Museum, February 13 - March 31, 2020

Published Friday, January 31, 2020

“Reflections of The Black Experience," an art collection curated by Kinya Christian, is reflective of the African diaspora to the modern-day Black experience in America by local and regional artists: Brian Elenbarger, Marzelle Williams, Gregory Janicke, Nick Palmer, and Leona Hunter-Wade, and others. The exhibit features visual excerpts of the ground-breaking 1619 Project lead by Nikole Hannah-Jones with The New York Times, an Arkansas Arts Academy performance rooted in Hip Hop and African dance movement choreographed by Dance Department Director CeCeFinley, and an artist talk-back event at The Rogers Historical Museum. 

The exhibit will begin with an opening reception at The Rogers Experimental House, downtown Rogers, during the Rogers ‘Art On The Bricks’ Art Walk, Thursday, February 13, 2020, at 4:00 p.m. Arkansas Arts Academy fifth and sixth grade students will perform at 4:45 p.m. The artist talk-back event will be held at the Rogers Historical Museum Saturday, February 29, 11 a.m. Event admission is free and open to the public. 

The 1619 Project, the New York Times Magazine interactive project lead by award-winning investigative reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, with contributions by the paper's writers, including essays, poems, short fiction, and a photo essay, is described as, “an ongoing initiative that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.” Originally conceived as a special issue for August 20, 2019, it was soon turned into a full-fledged project, including coverage in the newspaper and on its websites, and into an educational curriculum with The Pulitzer Center. 

This specially curated exhibit is building upon the idea—conceived by Gwen Kelly—of introducing The 1619 Project to a broader Northwest Arkansas community. Kelly, a veteran marketing executive, and diversity, equity, and inclusion strategist, said, "The opportunity to have an important conversation regarding culture and race against the backdrop of Black artistic expression is foundational in addressing many the many racial challenges being faced today by American society as a whole.” 

The Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce and its Vice President of Downtown Development and Rogers Experimental House Director, Karen Wagaman, has generously assisted with this endeavor. “Our Chamber of Commerce is pleased to assist in bringing 'Reflections of The Black Experience' to Downtown Rogers,” commented Wagaman. “We see this as a wonderful opportunity to further establish our region as a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming community.” 

Serena Barnett, Director for the Rogers Historical Museum, was instrumental in ensuring a home for the special exhibit beyond the Art Walk, from February 29 - March 31, 2020, in the Trammel Gallery at the Hailey Building, 313 South Second Street, downtown Rogers, Arkansas, as well as hosting the artist talk-back. “The Rogers Historical Museum is pleased for the opportunity to join with other community organizations in an effort to share an in-depth dialog leading to a greater knowledge of our past. We believe this collaborative exhibit and event will help strengthen our community to build a more unified future for us all.”

Arkansas Arts Academy 5th/6th grade dancers are currently studying Hip Hop dance and its roots politically, culturally and musically. CeCe Finley said, “As artists, we have the power, the platform, and the responsibility to bring diverse communities together through art, while educating society on the enormous impact and influence African American Culture has on every ounce of this country’s fiber."

“My goal for this exhibit is for people to be enlightened through education and inspired by the artwork. Ultimately, I want to see a permanent home for local and regional artists of diverse ethnicities to display their work, and for the public to continue to educated and inspired by it. The 1619 Project without question highlights the need for further education and a doorway to understanding,” said Christian. 

For more information about these events, including sponsorship opportunities contact Kinya Christian, 479-366-3182 and kinya@4209Creative.com

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