Office of the Arts Launches Virtual Black Lives Matter Exhibit

Thursday, October 01, 2020

UNCW’s Office of the Arts has curated a virtual exhibit that highlights Black trailblazers who have made significant contributions to the university and the surrounding community.
The Black Lives Matter Exhibit features biographies and portraits of prominent figures from UNCW’s history and content from the archives of Randall Library’s Special Collections, such as The Seahawk articles, Board of Trustees meeting notes and features from UNCW Magazine. A compilation of images of Black Lives Matter banners displayed across campus and statements of solidarity collected from university departments and offices are also a part of the exhibit.
The exhibit is available for viewing online. The virtual gallery will be accessible for an undetermined length of time.
“We hope to reaffirm an appreciation for figures who have paved the way for change at the university; increase the visibility of Black life and history; cultivate positive identity formation and encourage students to confront racial and ethnic injustice,” said Fidias Reyes, director of arts engagement for UNCW’s Office of the Arts. “Ultimately what people get from this project—whether it serves as an entry point to larger discussions within the classroom, or as an act of celebrating our African American community members—will be up to the viewer. We recognize the enormous tasks that lay before us as we move towards a more equitable, world and hope to provide tools and resources that support this movement.”
The ongoing virtual exhibit is a part of a larger campus-wide project, Reyes added. The Office of the Arts is collaborating with staff, faculty and students to create a public art installation on campus.
“There is no ‘opting out’ of the ongoing conversation surrounding racial equality and the Black Lives Matter movement,” she said. “To make meaningful contributions to the narrative, we plan to render these important histories more visible and accessible to students, faculty, and the professors who will tie this information into their curriculum. Our hope is that our UNCW community will continue to generate and utilize tools to support one another on the path to equality and justice.”
The decision to create a public art exhibit was not an either/or decision between displaying Black Lives Matter banners or creating an exhibit, said Donyell Roseboro, interim chief diversity officer at UNCW.
“We can do both,” she said. “With banners or signage people wish to display on campus, they can do so following the policies and procedures in place. Black Lives Matter banners are currently up on campus, sponsored by the Student Government Association. With the public art exhibit, we felt the need to create something more permanent on campus that continues the Black Lives Matter messaging within the larger context of the history of Black people in Wilmington and the nation. Public art is a powerful way to bring people together to inspire solidarity and change. We invite people to join us in the continued conversations.”
The Black Lives Matter Exhibit is accessible on desktop, laptop and mobile devices. To view the exhibit on mobile devices, you must install the Exhibbit App, a virtual gallery platform.
-- Venita Jenkins