Memorialize the Movement is dedicated to preserving the plywood protest murals created by local residents during the uprising following the murder of George Floyd. Founder Leesa Kelly says this year’s exhibition will be used to spark conversations around mental health and the role artistic expression plays in healing.
“This art form is just such a powerful one,” said Kelly . “It can be a scary thing to let go of those emotions that you've kind of cocooned yourself in.”
Kelly says she believes that murals can be used to inspire conversations around racial equality.
“But also we have to preserve it because they'll erase it if they can. It's a tool to spark social change. And I think it's a powerful tool if we know how to use it.”
The two-day art exhibit will feature an interactive community mural, art activities and performances, healing stations, vendors, and refreshments, as well as a panel with visual artists Lissa Karpeh and Christopher E. Harrison. Kelly says while all are welcome, this event is intentionally dedicated to Black and brown folks.
“I hope that when they come into the space, they can be at peace, I hope that they can find relief, I hope that they can find freedom in like addressing what we experienced, addressing what they see reflected back at them in the murals, but then also in letting go of the trauma and kind of healing during during that process.”
Kelly says she’s doing this work to empower and uplift people to tell their own stories.
“For so long, there just literally has not been a space for us to do that. And so to do this, and to be recognized as a conservator, as a preservationist in this space, it's just a really big honor and something that I feel the weight of tremendously, but that I'm proud to do.”
The Justice For George Exhibit will take place at Squirrel Haus Arts in Minneapolis on May 27 from 5-9pm and May 28 from 12-7pm.