In Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to segregate school children by race. But today, more than sixty years later, school segregation appears to be on the rise. More than one third of black American students attend an “intensely racially segregated” school, according to a study released this past June.
The matter is being explored by educators, activists, and politicians around the nation, with various goals and priorities. But it is also being tackled by artists, feeling out what it means in their lives, in the lives of those they brush against, and in the nation at large.
On June 24th, arts organization Smack Mellon opened their exhibition series, “Race and Revolution: Still Separate – Still Unequal.” Part art show, part performance series, the show is meant to explore the progress, if any, that our education system has made in those six decades in caring for the disadvantaged.
Workshops fostered by Smack Mellon in their gallery space will address issues like student-teacher trust, the ways in which racism is discussed, classroom experiences, and bias in testing. More than twenty artists will guide these discussions, while their art hangs on the walls all around.
The curators of “Race and Revolution” are Kathryn Fuller and Larry Ossei-Mensah. Fuller’s curriculum vitae is littered with similar projects; her passions are centered around the history and future of civil liberties. She is also a high school English teacher, intimately acquainted with that side of the dialogue she intends to strike up.
Ossei-Mensah, a Ghanaian-American curator of independent exhibitions, is a master of art communication, writing about many artists and the contexts in which they’ve worked. He’s on the Friends of Education Board at the Museum of Modern Art and was one of the founders of ARTNOIR, the global art collective.
“Race and Revolution” will run through August 6th, with workshops every few days until August 5th.