“My Beloved Community:” Uniting People Through Visual Activism

Photograph by Mackenzie Brooks

The opening of DH fellow Arlette Hernandez and classmate Ellen Kanzinger’s exhibition “My Beloved Community,” an ongoing art exhibition aimed at establishing an inclusive space where everyone’s humanity is acknowledged and everyone’s voice is heard, was emotional and candid. The exhibit consists of portraits, which were taken by Ellen Kanzinger ’18, as well as striking personal statements. It also contains a digital component, which was created by Arlette Hernandez ’18.

Depicting people on the social margins as well as those who fit society’s rigid expectations, the exhibit provides participants an opportunity to express their true selves. No matter how complex or unique it might be, every person’s story is important and deserving of representation.

Exploring the portraits and statements on the walls of the Wilson Atrium alongside fellow wanderers, I read provocative stories of discovering identity at W&L, realizing the differences between knowing versus seeing and being versus appearing, and believing in one’s own beauty. Suspenseful and honest, the narratives compelled me to consider the intricate history and expectations of my community.

Photograph by Mackenzie Brooks

The term “Beloved Community” was popularized by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., inspiring love, respect and acceptance between people. Created in response to the displays of white supremacy during August of 2017 in Charlottesville, VA, the exhibit is an example of effective visual activism that aspires for empathy and meaningful conversations about social justice and difference. During the exhibition’s opening, the Wilson Atrium was filled with serene understanding, appreciation and sense of community, rendering it a sweeping success.

 

There’s still time to go see “My Beloved Community” in the Wilson Atrium! The exhibit will be moved to Leyburn Library in March in case you miss it!

-Jenny Bagger, DH Undergraduate Fellow

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