The Springfield Art Museum will reveal a public art project Thursday, Aug. 14, titled “Springfield Neighbors.” It was created by Memphis artist Richard Lou, and is intended to spark dialogue within the community regarding race, identity and diversity.
"The people of Springfield are the content of the art," says Art Museum Executive Director Nick Nelson. The project highlights five families living in various parts of Springfield. Each family was photographed and interviewed by Richard Lou and a group of student volunteers, who then worked together to create large, outdoor digital photo-collages to be displayed outside of each family’s home. The photos will be printed on large vinyl banners that can then be mounted outdoors.
According to Nick Nelson, "This type of art is as much about the process of its creation and viewing as it is about the actual art object. Part of what Richard (Lou) does so well is, he sort of embeds in the community and meets people, and makes connections with people. So this artwork is... about the relationships that are formed through the art, and we hope this will further relationships through the viewing of it."
Over a period of five months, the photo-collages will rotate from home to home on a monthly basis, with each family hosting another during the run of the outdoor exhibition. The artworks will be unveiled on 7:00 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 14 at an artist talk with Richard Lou in the Art Museum Auditorium. A two-hour driving tour of the artworks will begin at the Art Museum Friday August 15, at 6:00pm, and a second driving tour the next morning, Saturday the 16th starts at 10 a.m. Receptions following each driving tour will follow back at the Art Museum. Richard Lou's artist statement indicates he was trying to act as a "facilitator and cultural worker" in this project, "where the content of the work are the residents of Springfield--to shift the focus of cultural production from the museum/gallery space to people's homes where ACTUAL production of culture takes place." Lou hopes to inspire patrons to "collectively think about the expanding notion of home, family and community... and to have a group of mostly strangers accept the symbolic images of another 'family' into their home space for a period of time--inviting and extending the notion of a loving sanctuary.
The “Springfield Neighbors” project is part of a series of activities planned around the Springfield-Greene County Library District’s traveling exhibition “Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963” which is organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of American History. It''s also part of a year-long educational initiative by the Greater Springfield Race & Faith Collaborative to engage the community in dialogue about race relations through public art. The “Springfield Neighbors” project will remain on display until January 2015 at various locations in Springfield. Admission to all events is free. For more information call the Art Museum at 837-5700. The museum's new website is www.sgfmuseum.org.