“Monuments to Us” exhibits marginalized communities

“Monuments to Us” exhibits marginalized communities

Written by Candace Reyes

In a diverse collection of artwork, the Museum of Fine Arts presents a new gallery, “Monuments to Us,” featuring work from multiple artists from various backgrounds. Although a small exhibit, every piece recognizes and celebrates communities which have been consistently marginalized throughout history. Members of the LGBTQA+, African American, Latino and disabled community are all represented in this exhibit.

The idea for this exhibition arose from the recent controversy surrounding monuments of confederate soldiers. The debate picked up intensity after the White supremacy rally in Charleston demanding for the confederate monuments to stay in their city. While some believe that these monuments should be taken down because they idolize America’s racist past, others believe they deserve to stay because they represent a part of history. The exhibit therefore questions in the explanation of the exhibition, “Whose stories are memorialized, whose are erased?” to show how the confederate soldiers’ stories are memorialized in the United States while the stories of many other groups of people have been erased.

One sculpture called “Raymond and Freddy” shows the way that artists connect with their communities to create meaningful relationships. The artist behind the piece, John Ahearn, used acrylic on plaster to create a sculpture of two African American brothers from the South Bronx. One of the brothers is HIV positive and is seen being hugged from behind,depicting a real, genuine, and loving human relationship.

Photo by Candace Reyes

Another piece from the gallery is an oil painting on canvas called “Two Girls, Spanish Harlem” by Alice Neel – a white woman who lived in a predominantly non-white community in Harlem. The piece is of two Latina  sisters casually sitting next to each other The painting’s placard stated that Neel was “radically ahead of her time, she chose to paint people no matter their race, gender, or creed, rendering humanity in all its diversity.” Neel created the piece in 1959, a time where the civil rights movement was momentous.

“This piece really spoke out to me. I really enjoy how the Spanish community are the subject exposing how beautiful they are,” said Sam Vasco, a third-year Northeastern student who visited the gallery.

Photo by Candace Reyes

Each piece in the exhibit is meant to share the stories of marginalized to prove that their lives are just as important and significant as the majority. Oftentimes these communities are dehumanized and ignored in our society, which is why “Monuments to Us is such a potent and compelling exhibition. The exhibit is on display at the MFA until April 8.

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