Justice for George: Messages From The People
When Leesa Kelly began collecting murals back in June of 2020 she hoped to be able to curate an exhibit that would simulate the experience of being in Minneapolis during the summer of 2020. So she reached out the the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum & Gallery and asked them to co-curate the exhibit. At that time she had no boards, no funding, and no curating experience. It was only a vision of what an exhibit like this could mean for her community that drove Leesa to see it through.
On May 22nd 2021, Memorialize the Movement, in partnership with STB and MAAHMG, hosted a free outdoor exhibition in Phelps Field Park near the George Floyd Memorial Square. After a year of back-breaking work to collect the murals, find a space, recruit volunteers, and fundraise, Leesa finally saw her vision come to life. The end result was a beautiful exhibition curated and planned entirely by members of this community who worked tirelessly to achieve something incredible.
Justice for George: Messages From The People was an opportunity for visitors to experience the stories being told through this art. The mourning of our loss, the acknowledgment of our failures and successes, and our hopes for the future and a more equitable Minneapolis. They hoped that through the exhibit the people of Minneapolis would heal together, learn from one another, and create understanding that leads to positive change.
The exhibit consisted of 200 of the 800 boards that were collected over the past year, 16 BIPOC artists that they paid to paint live murals, 4 live performances from Black musicians, 8 local BIPOC owned community organizations, and hundreds of visitors who came to heal and build community through the mural art.
To visit the exhibit, which lives on digitally through a story map created by MTM Volunteers Adem Ojulu, Rachel Weiher, and Frederica Simmons, Click the link below.
Context is Crucial
Street art is the single most widely available and accessible field of art that exists for both artists and fans alike, often providing an introduction to the arts within the public realm earlier than is encountered within institutional spaces. The plywood boards exhibited today are representations of street art produced largely during the Minneapolis Uprising of Summer 2020 throughout the Twin Cities. Street art is fleeting by nature, often only finding permanence in photography. This exhibition sets a new precedent where this work can be preserved and reactivated as a contemporary, living archive.
The Urban Mapping Team (UAM), led by Dr. Heather Shirey, Dr. Todd Lawrence, and Dr. Paul Lorah, is partnered with Memorialize the Movement to photograph and archive this ephemeral work. UAM's community interviews and archival work through the George Floyd and Anti-Racist Street Art Database provide invaluable insight to our process. Through this context, we can continue to place this protest art within both the original sites of the street and its reactivation.