“[The exhibit is] being really inspired by intimate places and intimate stories of Topeka residents who were the people who integrated schools or whose family members may have taught in schools,” german said. “So really mining the hearts and the minds and the memories of residents of Topeka to bring about a body of work that is not a retelling of Brown but is really a way to reckon with some of the ongoing pain.”
The final installation, which will initially find a home at the Rita Blitt Gallery on Washburn University’s campus, is all about “transformation and possibility and vision,” german said.
“And ultimately all of those things are held by love and justice,” she added, noting that Topekans are doing hands-on work like stringing beads and helping make a certain type of fabric bead.
“People are also contributing; they are giving objects,” german said. “They are giving something meaningful from their life that we can use in the artwork.”
According to Sarah Fizell, executive director of ArtsConnect—the Topeka-based organization that secured the NEA “Our Town” grant—the project will include 20-25 sculptures and be part of a mobile museum traveling to other sites in Topeka and around the country once its time at the Rita Blitt Gallery is complete. german is also helping create a spoken word operetta that will be performed by a community choir at Washburn University’s White Concert Hall on May 24, about a week after the gallery exhibit opens May 16. The exhibit is expected to remain at the gallery through mid-July.
To learn more about the upcoming installation, visit ArtsTopeka.org/LoveAndJustice, and keep an eye out for more information from Visit Topeka, ArtsConnect and other area groups like the 70th Anniversary Brown Coalition, Humanities Kansas, the Topeka & Shawnee