Flaten Art Museum exhibit addresses racialized violence 

On Friday, Sept. 1, the Flaten Art Museum in the Center for Art and Dance (CAD) opened a new exhibit in time for the new school year: Shadowlands, by Ken Gonzales-Day.

Ken Gonzales-Day, through photography and research, finds and captures the horrific past of racial violence, specializing in the southwest United States. Then, Gonzales-Day connects these past instances of racial violence to today’s issues.

Shadowlands addresses the need for racial violence awareness, especially after the events which occurred on campus spring of 2017. In his works, Gonzales-Day examines the tensions relating to the lynchings in the southwest to current racialized violence.

“Shadowlands made me think a lot about the unspoken. There is a lot of goodness in the world and people aren’t afraid to share that, but it’s different when it’s the opposite,” Suvd Davaadorj ’20 said.

The majority of the Shadowlands exhibit focuses on three of Gonzales-Day’s collections: “Erased Lynching,” “Searching for California Hang Trees” and “Run Up.” Through these collections, Ken Gonzales-Day captures the true tragedy of these events.

Besides photographs, the exhibit also includes artifacts from Gonzales-Day’s research, such as

postcards, buttons, books, a map and continuous showings of Ken Gonzales-Day’s short film, “Run Up.”

“Run Up” is a reenactment of a lynching event within the United States. Gonzales-Day took some of his photographs from this reen- actment in order to show what a historic lynching would have been like.

A noteworthy aspect of the exhibit is that Gonzales-Day does not include the bodies of the victims in the images. By not displaying the bodies, Gonzales-Day aims to protect the lynched victims from any more gawking and re-victimization. Instead, Gonzales-Day captures the bare trees in their eerie enthrallment.

Besides capturing the haunting events of the past, Gonzales-Day also includes photographs of recent racial violence, such as the memorial to Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Black Lives Matter protests. Gonzales-Day also used elements from both the historical and current racialized violence to create moving pieces and show how the past and the present are connected and similar.

The Shadowlands exhibit will be in the Flaten Art Museum through Oct. 29. On Friday, Oct. 20 from 3:15-4:15 p.m., the artist himself, Ken Gonzales-Day, will be coming to Viking Theater to further discuss his current and future exhibits connected to racialized violence.

A unique feature of the Shadowlands exhibit is that Gonzales-Day’s work emphasizes racialized violence involving both

Hispanic and African American individuals. By doing this, Gonzales-Day shows the current and historical relevance of racial violence. It is relevant across all races and continues to be a problem throughout the United States and around the world.

“[Gonzales-Day] sort of tackled multi-racial issues like Hispanic issues, Black issues all in one exhibition,” a student worker said.

Shadowlands is the perfect exhibit to understand racialized violence and how it continues to be a part of our society. This powerful exhibit conveys a realization that this terrible past is not so long ago and the violence continues even today. 

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