I'm always interested in the ways in which people assert themselves in spaces where their voices may otherwise go unheard or unnoticed. I was thrilled to learn of the University of Illinois-Chicago's Graduate Museum and Exhibition Studies program's new initiative, Fwd: Museums. Whew - that was a mouthful! This new journal "strives to create a space for challenging, critiquing, and imagining alternative modes of thinking and production within and outside of museums" (quoted from the Fwd: Museums website).
In response to a call for submissions for the inaugural issue, I felt compelled to submit an essay responding to the theme of "Inaugurations" or "firsts and beginnings." 2015-2016 represented my inaugural year as a full-time consultant and included my first exhibition as an independent consultant/curator (shoutout to the Northwest African American Museum, to whom I will be forever grateful!). The essay, entitled "A Very Brave and Courageous Thing: Museums and the Power to Reshape Historic Narratives of People of Color" was accepted! The essay chronicles my experience working on "The Atomic Frontier: Black Life at Hanford," an exhibition documented the journey and experiences of black workers at the Hanford Manhattan Project site in eastern Washington state. What the photos and press about the exhibition don't tell is that this exhibition became a platform for two local women to reclaim the stories of their mothers. These two incredibly brave women journeyed from the midwest and south to discover themselves and their capabilities, at a time when opportunities began opening for women but traveling and movement into unknown places for black people was dangerous. The essay was about lessons learned in documenting untold stories, bringing in your community and personal growth.
A copy of this issue of the journal, as well as subsequent issues, can be purchased here or via Amazon.com. My co-contributors are some of the brightest, most outspoken voices in the field, so I encourage everyone to buy a copy for yourself and your institutions!