Lewis Latimer House Museum to host exhibition artwork series on Race and Revolution

Photo courtesy of Katie Fuller

Explore the ongoing practice of government-sanctioned family separation at the fourth Race and Revolution: Home/Land exhibition in February at the Lewis Latimer House Museum. 

Curated by Katie Fuller, Race and Revolution: Home/Land will debut on Saturday, Feb. 8 at the museum, located at 34-41 137th St. in Flushing, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and will run through June 14. 

“Home/Land feels essential because of the horror around the fact that children are being separated from their loved ones and kept in cages. But the show is, also, necessary because the government practice of separating families has been the American way since we brought slavery to North America in 1619,” Fuller said. “We need to start asking more questions regarding what happens next for the children who have survived such an ordeal. Children are resilient, but how will we support their healing? I hope the school groups who visit Home/Land empathize with the children who have been separated from their families and that the artwork inspires them to tap into their strengths to become agents of change for the future.”

The exhibition series utilizes a combination of contemporary artworks and historical documents to examine patterns of systemic racism in the United States. The edition was inspired by African American inventor and humanist Lewis Latimer’s family experience, calling attention to how and why the United States government has used family separation as punishment against those considered as “other.”

A Message from the Children at the Border by artist Sylvia Hernandez, n.d.

The previous installments looked at the impact of colonialism, school segregation, and reimagining monuments. 

In this fourth installment, Home/Land will look at the influence of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1753 on Latimer’s family and the tactics used to detain, deport, and re-enslave with current practices used by Immigration Customs Enforcement to control the influx of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. An art education curriculum will be available upon request through the Lewis Latimer House Museum. 

Participating artists were given access to primary source documents from the past to create works that show a connection between then and now. Excerpts from historical documents include runaway slave ads, letters, and journal entries posted on the wall next to the art piece. Displayed together, the documents and the artworks will ask viewers what, if anything, has changed regarding how this country treats humans labeled as “illegal.”

The exhibition pairs true stories of those who escaped or attempted to escape slavery in the years surrounding the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 with modern and contemporary practices of families separated as a result of colonial ideologies being imposed upon cultural and migratory practices on land that profuses its freedom. 

Participating artists include Ann Lewis, Jade Sacker, Lorena Molina, Peter Hoffmeister, Sejin Park, Sheridan MacKnight, and Sylvia Hernandez.