It is not enough to simply declare oneself not a racist. I believe each of us has to actively do something to reverse the course of racism in this country. It will be different for each of us. I decided to support the Black Lives Matter movement with this traveling outdoor art exhibit. In mid-June, I began photographing people who attended protests that were held on the common outside my studio. I set up my studio during two protests and photographed 42 people.
Live protests always bring with them an element of confrontation. People who do not fully understand the premises of the protest might not approach the event or try to understand it.
The Protest Portraits exhibit removes the elements of adrenaline-filled confrontation from the experience. Anyone now has the opportunity to approach these individuals silently and without personality barriers, to look into their eyes and to read their stories.
My hope is that this exhibit will allow many new people to arrive at an understanding of what this movement is about by being able to reflect on the individual messages without the proximity of potential discord.
The first installation was on the Plymouth, NH, town common, where the protests had been held. It was a great success, with overwhelming support from the community.
About 100 people enjoyed the exhibit opening, with live music by Mark Flynn and lots of free ice cream donated by MnM Scoops.
Thanks to Plymouth Police Department, Plymouth Parks & Recreation Department and other town officials for regularly checking on the exhibit, especially to see that it was safe during tropical storm Isaias.
It was important to get this project launched in a timely manner. Grants can take time to discover and apply for. So far, we are running on bank loans plus a little community support. The printing, steel, lumber, transportation, and more has tallied up close to $6000, and climbing as we contemplate storage, future installations, and maintenance. With the amazing support coming from so many, I hope to obtain some grants along the way.
The exhibit is already being requested more and more. I’m hoping for it to go to the NH statehouse. After that, it is scheduled to go to Holderness School, Plymouth State University, and possibly a few more schools. This exhibit requires transportation, insurance, storage, and maintenance. To make this doable and sustainable, we have set up a GoFundMe page https://www.gofundme.com/f/protest-portraits-outdoor-art-installation
For those who wish to support the Black Lives Matter movement in ways besides this exhibit, you can do so here: https://blacklivesmatter.com/partners/
Installation Designer: Matt Kizer
Primary Construction / Steel Fabricator: Robin Campbell
Assistant Steel Work / Behind-the-Scenes Photos / Installation: Michael Cuddihy
Assistant Steel Work: Tom Cuddihy
Construction / Installation / De-installation: Kree Woolley, Cynthia Cutting, Bob Bruemmer, Estee Cuddihy, Trysten McClane, Carolyn Lawson
Assistants during Photo Sessions: Marcia Morris, Ashley Willumitis, Sean Wieboldt
Opening Reception Photographs: Molly Drummond
Many thanks to all of the protesters who put themselves forward to be photographed. I told them I would use their first names, so I won’t list them all. You can see all of the portraits here: https://maundymitchell.com/protest-portraits/