“Transforming Hate” Exhibition Launched in Helena Prepares for Road Trip | Local

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Marga Lincoln for the independent record

Hatred did not take a vacation.

Recent tragic reminders show that everything is too alive.

Not just in Charlottesville, Virginia, but also in Helena, MT – two weeks ago at a refugee resettlement meeting.

And at a small white supremacist protest on December 18th.

That’s why the “Speaking Volumes: Transforming Hate” art exhibit will once again be on the road to another community – Des Moines, Iowa – this spring.






“Speaking Volumes: Transforming Hate” exhibited at the Holter Museum of Art in October 2018.


THOM BRIDGE, Independent Disc


The incredibly powerful art exhibit, which premiered at the Holter Museum of Art in 2018 and debuted at the Holter in 2008, was inspired by 4,100 copies of anti-Semitic and racist books that the Montana Human Rights Network has acquired. in 2003, said exhibition curator Katie Chevalier.

The MHRN approached Holter looking for a creative way to turn hate-filled books into something positive.

Knight, who at the time was curator of education at the Holter Museum of Art, organized a team of artists and community members in 2005 to get involved with the project.

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She also launched a nationwide appeal for artists to turn hate-filled books into works of art.

Local and national artists responded.






4,100 copies of anti-Semitic and racist books that the Montana Human Rights Network acquired in 2003

The powerful art exhibit, which premiered at the Holter Museum of Art in 2018 and debuted at the Holter in 2008, was inspired by 4,100 copies of anti-Semitic and racist books that the Montana Human Rights Network acquired in 2003 , said exhibition curator Katie Knight. .


Courtesy photo


Sixty works were in the first exhibition, and 40 of them are part of a traveling exhibition.

“Speaking Volumes: Transforming Hate” toured across the country to 27 locations. Since 2014, he’s been on tour non-stop, except for a recent hiatus for much-needed repairs to his shipping crates and to update the exhibit.

As recently as last week, Knight shared some of the more recent donations to the collection, which is part of Holter’s permanent art collection.

There are works in this show that stop the heart and resonate in the memory.

Stories are brought to life in a way that freezes you in your tracks.

But also, to make you think.

One of these works is “Unbound,” a beaded-embroidered “sampler” depicting the lynching of a woman.

“When I opened this room, I started to cry,” Knight said.

“Her name is Laura Nelson. She was a daughter, a wife and a mother, ”writes artist Scott Schuldt of Milford, Connecticut, in his artist statement. “She and her 14-year-old son were lynched by a mob from a bridge in Okema, Oklahoma, in 1911. She is to be remembered.

“The central image of this room is a detail from a postcard that showed families (including children) from the nearby town posing on the bridge with Laura and her son hanging below.”






"Unbound" by Scott Schuldt

“Unbound” by Scott Schuldt


Schuldt wrote that vintage samplers taught valuable sewing lessons with art, poetry, and schoolwork, and were used to commemorate births, deaths, and significant events in a person’s life. “I used a sampler as a device to tackle racial hatred as a learned trait.”

An interesting historical anecdote to Laura’s story is that Woody Guthrie’s father was on the bridge the day the photos of the lynching were taken, Knight said.

Years later, her son Woody would write a heartbreaking song about Laura, “Don’t Kill My Baby and My Son”.

Another work of art is a “Red-Crown Crane” photographic triptych showing artist Clarissa Sligh, wearing a red beaded hat, seated in an apparent cascade of hundreds of origami paper peace cranes. She holds out an offering of a red apple of knowledge in one hand.

At first, Sligh couldn’t even force himself to touch the books.

Inspired by the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan, she decided to cut out and fold the pages of white supremacist books and turn them into cranes.

In an artist’s book she created for the exhibition, a photographic and poetic narrative testifies to the violence and hatred of white supremacy throughout her life.

“In general, the experiences of my life are the reason I made this piece,” Sligh said in a previous IR interview.

“My uncle was lynched in South Carolina before I was born. Rope around his neck. Her broken body was thrown from the wagon into the yard in front of my mother, ”she wrote in her book.

Sligh was about the same age as Emmett Till when he died. He was 14 when he was brutally murdered for talking to a white woman.

When Sligh was 16, “I became the principal plaintiff in a school integration lawsuit in Virginia.”

“I will not meet hate with hate. My grandmother used to say that hatred hardens the heart and destroys those who carry it.

“Do we have the courage to live differently? ” she asks.

“I’m interested in healing, all kinds of healings from body to mind to society.

“What is happening today is things that are happening that need to be healed.

“You have to bring things out in the open for things to change. It has always been there, but it was not discussed. People didn’t have to watch it, but now we are.

“This exhibit gives a boost to that kind of civil dialogue,” Knight said.

“Art is a great way to catalyze a discussion that you can’t really engage in when politics is so polarized. “

The provocative art of the exhibition is always accompanied by extensive educational programs.

Each venue has the option of inviting works by local artists to add to the show, making it relevant and meaningful to that community.

Knight discovered that the exhibit speaks deeply to people and their community.

The great variety of works of art allows “each visitor to find their own point of entry”.

A host from Springville, Utah, was so moved by the exhibit that she invited her family, who were racist, to come see it.

It sparked discussions the family had never been able to have before, Knight said.






In Tulsa, Oklahoma,

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, where in 1921 a white mob burned down and torched the thriving black neighborhood of Greenwood, “Speaking Volumes” opened at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.


Courtesy photo


In Tulsa, Oklahoma, where in 1921 a white mob burned down and torched the thriving black neighborhood of Greenwood, Speaking Volumes opened at the Living Arts of Tulsa. It is adjacent to the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park, a memory of the massacre. Groups in Tulsa have organized a series of “sister exhibitions” to accompany Speaking Volumes.

Members of Speaking Volumes’ original team of artists and educators have formed a non-profit association, Speaking Volumes Art Action, which sponsors tours of the exhibition in partnership with the Holter Museum of Art.

For more information, visit www. Speakingvolumes.net.


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