Exhibit showcases artists’ reactions to civil rights movement

Photo courtesy Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Danny Lyon, American , b. 1942 SNCC workers outside the funeral for girls killed at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church: Emma Bell, Dorie Ladner, Dona Richards, Sam Shirah and Doris Derby, Birmingham, 1963; printed 2002-2008. Gelatin silver print. Gift of the Hall Family Foundation.

During the Civil Rights movement, artists and musicians were influenced by events and recorded their reactions to them.

Some of their works will be on display as part of a new show at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art called History & Hope: Celebrating the Civil Rights Movement.

The American Jazz Museum, the Black Archives and the Nelson-Atkins teamed up on the exhibit. It includes photographs, drawings and prints that acknowledge the role artists and musicians played in the civil rights struggle.

History & Hope will be on view from Nov. 22 through May 18, 2014 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington in August 1963.

Here’s more from a press release:

The exhibition showcases the work of artists and musicians who were concerned about the struggle for human equality and racial harmony, as well as those who remain influenced by the movement today.

Artists and civil rights activists from Kansas City bring their voices to the exhibition in the form of labels that reflect memories of the movement.

“We all decided that conversation about these works of art would add an enormous depth to this exhibition,” said Sonié Joi Thompson-Ruffin, visiting curator at the American Jazz Museum. “I chose several activists and artists who were engaged in or inspired by the civil rights movement in Kansas City, and we captured those comments on videotape. They were then transcribed and placed on the labels.”

Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and Kansas City Mayor Sly James are among the community members whose remarks bring perspective to the exhibition.

“The Mayor made some very meaningful observations as he looked at one of the photographs in the exhibition,” said Rose May, former Head, Interpretation at the Nelson-Atkins. “His personal experiences growing up as a black man in Kansas City are a powerful statement about the civil rights movement.”

A response station will allow visitors to express their own feelings and memories of the Civil Rights Movement.

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