Franklin Park Conservatory’s new exhibit raises the voices of black artists

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Candice Igeleke, Program Director of the Maroon Arts Group, at the “Resilience in Nature: We Are The Roses that Grew from the Concrete” exhibition at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus. Credit: Courtesy of Candice Igeleke | Brown Arts Group

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ new exhibit, “Resilience in Nature: We Are The Roses that Grew from the Concrete,” features voices of black artists in an exhibition of art inspired by nature.

The exhibition, which runs from June 12 to November 28 in the conservatory’s Cardinal Health gallery, highlights the works of 29 local black artists of varying levels of experience, said Bonnie DeRubertis, associate director of exhibitions at the conservatory. The conservatory has partnered with All People Arts, Creative Women of Color, Maroon Arts Group and TRANSIT ARTS for the exhibition.

Showcasing 31 different works of art in all, the exhibition gallery showcases the theme of resilience in nature, with a wide variety of mediums including paintings, poetry, photography, digital art and textiles, DeRubertis said. The work was selected by a panel of five local jurors after a call for nominations in February.

“I feel like black artists have always created works that reflect nature, but often they are left out of that narrative,” DeRubertis said. “This exhibit really strives to connect people with nature while building that voice and supporting the voices of black artists.”

The title of the exhibit was inspired by a line from the late rapper Tupac Shakur, which details a rose blooming from cracks in concrete and symbolizes something that is outside of its element but still in full swing, said Candice Igeleke, program director for Maroon Arts Group. The gallery’s variety of artwork showcases each artist’s interpretation of the meaning of the line.

“I personally know people who have been put in ridiculous situations or beautiful situations, and they thrive anyway,” Igeleke said. “We wanted to see what it looked like with these different artists and their elements.”

Katerina Fuller, program manager for TRANSIT ARTS, said the exhibit gives emerging artists the opportunity to feature in their first exhibit and connect with the Columbus community.

“Because Franklin Park is in what was historically a black neighborhood and is an integral part of [to] the black community of Columbus, I wanted to help bridge the gap between the two communities, ”Fuller said.

Additionally, partner groups sought to ensure that the conservatory’s exhibit provided a legitimate platform for the voices of black artists in the community and did not just tick a box to say they had done so. , said Igeleke. Organizers met with the conservatory to create greater public access to the artwork and continued support from the black community.

“We made sure to address this and determine what [the conservatory was] going to do, rather than put on a show, ”Igeleke said. “It was better for us to be definitely at the table. We were really heard, so that meant a lot, and we just want to continue this conversation. “

Upcoming events for the exhibit include an open mic party hosted by TRANSIT ARTS on June 22, with more events to come in the coming months, Fuller said. Entrance to the open mic event is free and continues the organization’s monthly tradition of the open mic night, which typically takes place at their East Main Street location.

“Resilience in Nature: We Are the Roses That Grown Out of Concrete” is open at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens from 10 am to 5 pm. Visitors can purchase tickets through the conservatory website, with free admission available to all residents of Franklin County and Columbus on the first Sunday of each month.


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