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Arts & Culture

Art inspires community conversation on race at the Springfield Museum of Art

The Springfield Art Museum holds a discussion BLACK LIFE as subject MATTER II
Desmond Winton-Finklea
/
WYSO
The Springfield Art Museum holds a discussion BLACK LIFE as subject MATTER II

The Springfield Museum of Art hosted a community conversation about bias on Saturday. It was the first in a monthly series at the museum focused on race, featuring local artists and community leaders.

Artist Bing Davis speaks at the Springfield Museum of Art
Desmond Winton-Finklea
Artist Bing Davis speaks at the Springfield Museum of Art

The events are part of a current exhibition entitled BLACK LIFE as subject MATTER II curated by Dayton artist Willis Bing Davis. He led the discussion along with Ryan Wynett of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Davis spoke about the history of bias against African American art in museums, including in Ohio.

Sculpture of state representative John Lewis at the Springfield Museum of Art
Desmond Winton-Finklea
Sculpture of the late congressman John Lewis at the Springfield Museum of Art

“This exhibit is special because of that bias,” he said. “What we hope to do is to help, through education and through exposure, museums, of which now we are partnering with the Springfield museum of Art, and hoping that the other museums in our area and Ohio will see the value of reaching into other neighborhoods and communities and allowing their art to be displayed and expressed.”

About 40 community members gathered in the museum’s main gallery space to share their perspectives. Tracy Murchison of Springboro said recognizing that all people have biases should only be a starting point.

“I think that when we talk about bias, about it is just inherent in people, you’re not good, you're not bad, everybody has bias. I think that’s right. I think that’s the place to start. But what I struggle with a little bit is it somewhat weakens the negative impact of it,” she said. “It almost feels like, don’t worry, you all have it, have a happy day. And there is some level of work that needs to be done to build the muscle of what that actually means.”

Three more conversations are scheduled at the museum and will focus on race as a social construct, community building, and social identities and systems.