Xera Britt, contributor
“Matter is the Minimum. Black lives are worthy. Black lives are beloved. Black lives are needed.” Jay Ulrich’s message was just one of many quotes featured at AugSem’s “Art of The Uprising Part B.” The event displayed murals, graffiti works, and street art pieces for Augsburg students to ponder over, converse about, and connect with.
Following the first part that starred Peyton Scott Russell and Olivia House, Part B, taking place from Sept. 17-22 sought to further engage AugSem first-years with the art that has spread across the Twin Cities in response to police brutality.
Part B, like the prior event, was facilitated by Augsburg’s Ani Casselius and ran by Professor Rebekah Dupont. The event was focused on reflecting upon Part A as well as the variety of artwork that bloomed across the globe in the wake of the uprising. Upon arriving and getting settled, students were first encouraged to look over a selection of pictures, both physical and digital, depicting these works of art. They were then told to select a few that they were most drawn to. Once a few pieces were chosen, they were asked to explain to their classmates what drew them to each photo. Along with this, first-years were tasked with analyzing their choices, talking about what the pieces may be emphasizing, and discussing how the medium affected each piece’s message and presentation. Some of the pictures were simple, sprayed messages over concrete, brick, and plywood (such as the motto “No Justice = No Peace”) while others were large, detailed murals with no words, such as the many George Floyd murals spread across countless walls in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Still, more sought to mix these aspects into a direct message and a visual emphasis, such as the “Racism is a Virus” mural in London.
These pieces often shared commonalities in the messages they presented: calls for action, justice and reparations. Each painting evoked deep emotion, connection and meaning when studied. Anger, frustration, unity, community, abolitionism, change– all these messages and more were both seen and felt when observing the street-based gallery. Part B’s activities were undoubtedly effective at supporting House and Russell’s claim that art evokes emotion that can not be accessed solely by word of mouth.
Nearing the end of the event, students had the chance to add their own small addition to the art of the uprising. They were asked to think of one word and write it down, along with a simple drawing that went with it. Then, students were able to add to the four “We Are Bold 2024” poster boards that were set up at the event. Any resonating message was welcome and first-years took advantage of the artistic freedom to decorate each one with words of support, unity and justice. Students who preferred to participate virtually had the option of adding their work to a PowerPoint and creating a digital art collage. These slides can be found along with the webinar under the AugSem Learning Community tab on Moodle.