Arts | September 24th, 2019

Foster-Tanner Debuts Activist Exhibit

By: Journey Associate
Foster-Tanner Debuts Activist Exhibit

The “Walls Turned Sideways are Bridges: Narratives of Necessity” exhibit debuted at Florida A&M University’s Foster-Tanner Fine Art Gallery on August 26. This event showcased the influences of historical activist organizations including the Black Panther Party, Brown Berets, the Young Lords Party, and the Tupamaros. 

Marie Vickles, director of public programming at Miami’s Perez Museum of Art and award-winning contemporary artist William Cordova curated the exhibit to highlight the national and global impact of these social justice groups through narratives and imagery. The power of an image and voice are used to educate and transform public opinion about an often distorted representation of the Black Panther Party and its affiliated organizations.

The exhibit extends over two stories; the attention garnering first floor opened with displays of records that further highlighted the revolutionary passion of the time. Saturated posters encouraged education and housing improvements including free children’s breakfasts, free fumigations and lead poisoning tests as well as the fight against sickle cell anemia.

Books and magazine covers were held in glass cases for observers and photos of activist leaders such as Angela Davis, and Huey P. Newton are on display along with pictures of The Black Panther Party movements in Britain, Polynesia, and Israel. 

“In short, it was necessary,” Cordova said when describing his inspiration for the exhibit. “Historical moments have been erased, displaced and vilified. Marie and I decided that all of these components are really important material that we needed to recontextualize.” 

He explained, “the material is actually from a research book that we worked on for the last sixteen years on activists of color and vernacular architecture in the US and how that’s transcended through education, and the eraser of communities of color.” 

FAMU students shared their experience at the opening ceremony. Spencer Allen, a junior from Kansas City, Kansas shared his thoughts about the exhibit. 

“I have a fascination with photography and it’s just amazing what you can capture with a camera. It’s pretty amazing to learn more about it [the BPP] and who they were. Just seeing all this is really inspirational.”

The exhibit is free and open to the public in the Foster-Tanner Fine Arts Building until December 6th, 2019. Gallery hours this fall are as follows:

10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. Saturdays.