Frederick Douglass and Public Art Today
“The Douglass statue is about bringing people and a community together.” -Carvin Eison, Project Manager of the Re-Energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass
With images of Douglass over their shoulder, a panel gathered for 'Frederick Douglass and Public Art Today' hosted by Memorial Art Gallery featuring Carvin Eison (Associate Professor of Journalism, Broadcasting & Public Relations at the College of Brockport), Joan Saab (Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester) and Carolyn Vacca (Monroe County Historian and Associate Professor and Chair of History at St. John Fisher College), moderated by Amanda Chestnut (Artist and Arts Administrator, Flower City Arts Center). Also in the audience was the sculpture of the Douglass replica statues around Rochester, Olivia Kim, who spoke briefly on the statue and sung the praises of volunteers who helped her bring Douglass to life.
While the focus was on the statues of Douglass, the panel touched on the importance of public art and supporting artists. After a question from the audience, Chestnut offered up some advice on what that support could look like.
“One thing you can do to support art is buy art from living artist,” she said. “If you don’t have money, give time”
The gallery had a Douglass statue on display for a limited time, which connected the public art in the streets of Rochester to their space. The MAG also commissioned a beautiful visual piece on Douglass, “Lessons of the Hour” by Isaac Julien.
Keywords: Amanda Chestnut, Carolyn Vacca, Carvin Eison, Frederick Douglass, Joan Saab, Memorial Art Gallery, Olivia Kim, Public Art, Rochester, Upstate New York
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