Updated: Nov 18, 2020
‘I Don’t Promise Anymore’ 24″ x 36″ Acrylic paint on decorative wallpaper
All over the world, the stories of racial injustice in America have sparked a tsunami of desire for change. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many of the other victims of racial injustice have become household names, and created global discussions. I began writing this article on the 19th of June, the day that the last remaining enslaved African Americans were emancipated in the US in 1865, as I felt naïve I hadn’t heard of it before. Social media has proven a fantastic utensil in uniting and displaying solidarity with these causes worldwide. I saw on Facebook that Morgan Mcgill, a friend I studied with in Bilbao, had been part of an amazing exhibition in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Louisville, so I asked her some questions about it all. Here is the interview:
Promotional video for the PeaceState exhibition
Hi Morgan! So tell me about the exhibition you’ve been part of recently.
Peacestate.org hosted the exhibition so I submitted my work through them, and then the exhibit was supported by Black Lives Matter. I believe the exhibit will be up till June 26- when there will be another exhibit of the exact same nature especially to support black artists. [You] could either buy it for a named price by the artist, or buy a $10 raffle ticket for whatever pieces they wanted to bid on. (All of the proceeds would then go to Black Lives Matter or an organization to support Black lives that the artist chose. Then you might win the piece from your $10 raffle or not….but your $10 would still go to BLM).’
How did you hear about it, and did you have to make work specifically for it? How did people respond?
I am always looking on LSURJ (Louisville showing up for racial justice) and Louisville BLM facebook pages these days to see where to protest and how I can help and I think between that and googling “art with blm,” I found PeaceState. I had already made the video/resulting canvas that I submitted because I felt the neeeed to make art in the midst of it all and when I made that piece, I hadn’t even been to a protest yet so I felt kind of helpless. A lot of people (Black and white) came to the exhibit which was good to see (maybe 200.) There were also artists who took the mic and rapped/danced/sang in the middle of the exhibition.
Amidst the events there is still apparent fear, and unknowing. ‘My family didn’t show at the exhibit and they’ve been pretty distant/scared about the protests and all so that was a little disappointing. But a few of my friends came to support,’ and I just hope between the corona virus and everything people can do all they can to support BLM and passing laws to keep specifically Black people safe while/if they stay at home.’ A criticism of the protests is the fact that we are still in a pandemic, which changes the approach and safety of every action which the organisers planned for, ‘it was/is digital so everything could be viewed virtually/be bid on. During the exhibit there were cameras everywhere streaming it live too,’ as an excellent tool to promote inclusivity and safety.
What is the mood in your area like now? compared to before the protests, how has the atmosphere changed? Has there been any graffiti you’ve noticed? and any other artists you’d like to mention?
There’s a lot of petition signing going around on FB…I take walks everyday in the park near my house. (as a back story, Louisville is VERY segregated like the East end is ALL white people and the West end is mostly black people). I live in the middle but still with mostly white people I’d say so this park by my house usually is filled with white people, right? But lately there have been more black people there! Idk if that’s relevant, but it’s something I’ve noticed
Lots of my white friends [are] really stepping up to the plate and refusing to keep silent. the grocery store I walk to has a mural on one side of the parking lot and written off to the side of the mural are Breonna and George’s names. @damonpaints has been painting up the town with Breonna, David, and George’s faces. At the exhibition, there were: @rsk_arts ( pics below)
Also, a month or two ago there was a famous graffiti here on an overpass that is above a highway that said “resist..”. And my bf’s dad knows the guy…anyway the guy went to jail because of it. [More on this story here]
How do you think the events have informed your art practice, referencing the works you made for the exhibition? Do you think it has changed how you see art making/ purpose?
For sure. I already loved and admired artists like Njdeka Crosby who not only are technically brilliant but experience life in America as a minority. But now, I’ve been thinking more and more how my art practice can be informed by the events around me and by the experiences of my friends or those artists I admire that have a more difficult time just because of their skin color. I think I’ve concluded that a big way to do that is to lift up black people, POC, and immigrants’ voices by collaborating with them in art projects; because if my voice is the only one heard, we’re not going to get as far in the discussion on racial issues.
Excellently said- thankyou so much for your time!
For more information on the amazing pieces in the exhibition and to follow Morgan’s fantastic work here is Morgan’s website and instagram below: she has recently been commissioned to paint a mural on diversity in First Jefferson Street in Louisville, so much more to come!!