Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Stowe Center Hosts Negative Images Exhibit

“They” are not like us. “They” do not understand us. “They” are strange. Therefore, we mock “them,” we exclude “them.”

This “Us” vs. “Them” thinking is the basis for a traveling exhibit at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center June 14 through Sept 3. An opening reception will be held Thursday, June 14 at 6:30 p.m.
THEM: Images of Separation shows artifacts that target Asian-Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, Jews, poor whites, women, and people marked as “different” because of how they look, their body type or sexual orientation. On loan from the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University, the exhibit uses objects of intolerance to teach tolerance and promote social justice. With 35 framed pieces, the exhibit shows how everyday objects are used to foster prejudice and discrimination—and separation.
“These negative images on ordinary artifacts – like postcards, license plates, games, souvenirs and costumes – are shocking,” says Stowe Center Executive Director Katherine Kane. “They are meant to persecute and isolate, holding down people and groups.” THEM tackles cultural hot-button issues: anti-Arab sentiment, Holocaust denial, "don't ask, don't tell" and immigration.
THEM: Images of Separation was inspired by the words of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere…Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Kane notes, “Viewing the exhibit, we see how we demonize those who are different, and that differences are seen as deficiencies, weaknesses, and moral failings.”
The Stowe Center presents THEM as part of Stereotypes: Designed to Degrade, a site-wide initiative including exhibits, tours and programs on the power of hateful name-calling. Also on exhibit is Who is Uncle Tom? where visitors learn how Stowe’s title character evolved from 19th-century inspiration for abolition to racial slur. Stereotypes: Designed to Degrade is supported by funding from Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and Travelers.
A companion exhibit, Hateful Things, runs concurrently at the Mark Twain House and Museum next door to the Stowe Center. Hateful Things looks at inflammatory representations of African Americans. Stowe and Twain worked to make change yet, despite their effort, inequity and injustice are prevalent in the 21st century. The exhibits and associated programming examine the damage of racism and stereotyping while offering opportunities for dialogue and action.
The exhibit will be open during Stowe Center hours, Tuesday through Friday, 9:30 am.to 4:30 pm; Saturday 9:30 am to 5:30 pm; Sunday noon to 5:30 pm. Admission is free for Stowe Center members or with paid admission to the Stowe Center. Admission for the exhibit only is $3.
WARNING: This exhibit contains graphic and vulgar images with racist and sexual content. The Stowe Center has rated it appropriate for mature 13 year olds and older; guardians should be prepared to answer tough questions from younger visitors.
For more information, contact 860-522-9258, ext. 317.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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