Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Point of View; the Story Behind Cummer's Exhibit

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Point of View; the Story Behind Cummer's Exhibit

Article excerpt

Byline: Katie Adeeb Colley

I am saddened by the departure of Hope McMath as executive director of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens.

While I fear this news might create divisiveness in our community, the intent of "LIFT: Contemporary Expressions of the African American Experience" was to bring our city together and create greater compassion and understanding.

Very few people in the community know the full story of the Cummer's LIFT exhibit. Given the shocking news of Hope's departure, I feel compelled to share more of the story.

ONE FAMILY'S EXPERIENCE

I went to Hope about two years ago with the idea to use art as a vehicle to explore structural racism.

As the mother of four children - two white and two black - my own eyes had been opened to how differently the world treats my children based on their skin color.

I am fearful of my black son wearing a hoodie but not my white son.

I walk down the aisles of the toy store searching on the bottom shelves for a doll with dark skin and curly hair so my black daughter can play with a toy that reflects her beauty, yet there are countless dolls that mirror my white daughter.

I read history books to my four children and realize the accomplishments of African-Americans are largely missing from the pages.

As any parent can attest, there is no greater inspiration than your children, and I was inspired by them to create a safe space to address the inequities they are experiencing.

I had the good fortune to be introduced to Hope by our mutual friend, Tracy Tousey. We talked about my personal experience as a mother in a multi-racial family; she listened with compassion as I shared stories highlighting the different treatment of my white children and black children.

And then we got to work.

My vision was to use art as a springboard for meaningful conversations around race.

I know that racism is a difficult subject matter and one that we all would rather avoid. So I wanted to use art as the entry into these challenging conversations. …

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