Great ARTdoors at the Spurlock
- Location:Campbell Gallery
Two sculptures from the Great ARTdoors Program 2020 are now on view in the front lobby of the Spurlock Museum. The pieces, Kinsey Fitzgerald’s Mother and Child and Ja Nelle Davenport-Pleasure’s Seeds of Injustice, were commissioned by the Great ARTdoors Program in 2020, as part of a collaboration between the Spurlock Museum, 40North, Urbana Arts and Culture, Urbana Park District, and Champaign Park District. The initiative was created to help fund C-U area artists during the pandemic, and to provide solace and community during a difficult year. It was named by the arts and culture magazine, Smile Politely, as the Best New Art Programming of 2020 (external link).
The Great ARTdoors program (external link) will be back this year from May 2021 to October 2021.
Mother and Child, by Kinsey Fitzgerald
Kinsey Fitzgerald is an artist, a doula, and an educator. Her sculpture of a mother tenderly holding her child was inspired by one in São Paulo, Brazil, named Monumento da Mãe Preta (external link)(“The Black Mother Monument”), by Júlio Guerra, a monument to Afro-Brazilian women who were enslaved in Brazil. That monument also gestures toward the act of making slaves perform as wet-nurses, and in turn, taking them away from feeding their own children. Fitzgerald points out that “today in the US, a Black woman is three times more likely than a White woman to die in childbirth. I believe this is due to the systemic oppression of Black people in the healthcare system.” Fitzgerald says that she wanted her sculpture to be a rebuttal against the stereotype of Black women as “absent mothers,” a stereotype that she says continues to impact the way Black women are seen and treated in the healthcare system today. She hopes to see more monuments of mothers across the country.
Seeds of Injustice, by Ja Nelle Davenport-Pleasure
Ja Nelle Davenport-Pleasure is an artist, poet, dancer, and fashion and jewelry designer. She describes her multimedia piece, Seeds of Injustice, as a “shadow box,” whose inspiration came from thoughts she was having related to gun violence, food insecurity, and racism. In Seeds of Injustice, the names that appear to be growing from a tree’s seeds include the names of people killed by gun violence in the Champaign-Urbana area: Martez Taylor, Christopher Kelly, Toto Kaiyewu, Gregory Brown, Jasma Cobb, Edgar Hoults, Michael Rich, Kiwane Carrington, Donnell Clemons, Brian Chesley, Renee Holt, and Dahari Banks.
Pleasure says she has really struggled with the impact of violence on the community: “It has broken my heart to see mothers like myself tear-filled because their babies won’t ever enjoy growing up or enjoying life because it was cut short by someone who had no real care for human life. It’s haunting and frustrating, and I don’t always know what to do. How to react. It causes my soul to tire out. So I put all of those thoughts, frustrations, anger-filled tirades into a box looking back at us. I want people to feel something when they look at this piece.”