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College hosting collaborative Black Lives Matter exhibit with Oswego East High School

Barry McNamara
A collaborative Black Lives Matter exhibit featuring student art from Monmouth College and Oswego (Ill.) East High School will be on display in the College’s Hewes Library through the end of February.

An opening reception will be held from 2-4 p.m. Feb. 3 in the library’s Gallery 203. That will take place shortly after the Oswego students arrive on campus and finish hanging their work, which will be displayed alongside several Monmouth College pieces, many of which were created last fall in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

The College’s connection to Oswego East is art teacher Laura Cavanaugh, a 1986 Monmouth graduate. She and other English and studio art Advanced Placement teachers at OEHS had their students work on pieces that, collectively, are “a contemplation on social movements, social constructs and systemic racism.”

“After viewing the BLM art show, I felt the art was so powerful, I knew it had to be seen by many,” said Cavanaugh, who grew up across the street from campus and graduated from Monmouth High School. “Black Lives Matter is an important social issue that impacts and reflects on all of us, and our students are very excited to share their ideas and create a dialogue with Monmouth College.”

And members of the Monmouth community are looking forward to the conversation.

“Our students are really excited for the opportunity to talk with these high school students about issues related to Black Lives Matter and social issues, in general,” said Monmouth art professor Stacy Lotz. “From an artist’s perspective, it’s wonderful to see young artists making art with a social justice slant.”

Some of the Monmouth students represented in the exhibit are Hayden Fulfer ’17 of Bloomington, Ill., Lily Guillen ’18 of Round Lake, Ill., Shoshana McClarence ’17 of New Lenox, Ill., Chelsee Nava ’20 of Chicago, Rubi Nogueron ’18 of Chicago and Kendall Thompson ’17 of Galesburg, Ill.

Guillen’s piece is a work she completed in a bookmaking class, featuring images from last fall’s protests and demonstrations on campus. Fulfer’s work is a large painting completed for his Citizenship class, inspired by the iconic Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima photograph, but featuring several flags, including one for Black Lives Matter.

The exhibit will also include pieces from the College’s James Christie Shields Collection of Art and Antiquities, and items in the library’s archives that contain Civil Rights images from the 1950s and 1960s.

“The BLM exhibit was created to be an impartial project that allowed students to express themselves in an intellectual and positive way,” said Heather Stanich, one of Cavanaugh’s OEHS colleagues who will also be on campus Feb. 3. “The exhibit of the students’ work is meant to prompt thoughtful discussions among the students, parents and community members to talk about a sensitive topic in a safe environment where everyone has a voice.”