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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Reparations

    February is Black History Month, and many celebrations are underway to pay homage to those great individuals who helped shape Black history. From inventors and scientists to literary giants and theatrical geniuses, there are many who deserve to be lauded and appreciated for their contributions.

    Racial issues are still relevant in our age. The high rate of criminal activity among minorities, racial profiling by police departments, and the racial disparity in wealth and prosperity; all have social implications that are worth discussing. Keith Miller, from the Student Union and Activities Department wrote, ‘Especially after Hurricane Katrina, racial issues are once again central to the American discourse about its social makeup.’

    Recently, an art exhibit was opened at Stony Brook, aimed to remind us of the long history of the Black experience in America, and the racial issues we still face as a country.

    At the exhibit, a group of artists have presented artwork with the intention of raising awareness about the inequities experienced by African Americans, and to demand amends for the social injustices suffered by them throughout history. It is true, after all, that you cannot get something you do not ask for, and thus communication is most important.

    The exhibit, ‘Reparations,’ is currently being presented in the Student Activities Center Gallery until Feb. 28. It features Terry Boddie, Sheila Pree Bright, Francks, Deceus, Stephanie Dinkins, William Downs, Kianga Ford, Jessica Ingram, Satch Hoyt, Brookie Maxwell, Howardena Pindell, and WILPF.

    Although the idea behind the exhibit is not necessarily novel, it is still commendable. Apart from the messages portrayed, the means of presentation were also remarkable. The photography was outstanding, and the size of the pieces added to their appeal. The photographs were so simple, but they conveyed a great deal. In addition, the juxtaposition of objects within the pictures worked to the artists’ benefit.

    For example, in Ingram’s work, three large photographs (Untitled #15, #7 and #9) utilize shadows and mainly the colors white and black, representing an absence of color, to depict what I understood to be the disparity between races. The lack of color was a clever addition.

    The other most interesting pieces of artwork were done by Downs, Maxwell and Bright. Downs’ work, ‘Maybe,’ consisted of paintings done on manila folders in black paint. There were religious images with biblical undertones, including the Cross, interactions between people, water, chaos, darkness and explosions.

    Maxwell’s piece, ‘Pieta: How Long Will They Mourn Me,’ was the most captivating, again because of its large size. But it was also the piece that evoked the most emotion. Created on five large columns, it shows a scene of a family, community and society mourning the loss of a loved one – sadly it is too common a scene. It was very moving – easily the best piece at the exhibit.

    Bright’s ‘Road Through Midnight’ was a picture of a quiet, deserted road, showing a very modest home and lifestyle, familiar to many Americans, regardless of race. Nevertheless, the picture could be seen to transmit an image of social ailment with race at its base.

    ‘Reparations’ is a precious attempt to claim justice for all the injustices leveled upon a minority – a minority that realizes power comes in numbers and through strong voices.

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