The Grand Rapids Public Museum has a new exhibit, Windows GR, that features three large-scale art pieces created by local artists of color.
Jalexia Stoutmyre, a multimedia artist; DeVante Barnes, a visual and musical artist; and Guillermo Sotelo, artist and graffiti writer, created three pieces of art for the Windows GR project.
After the Back Lives Matter protest in response to the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer that turned into a riot resulting in damage to vehicles and buildings last year in downtown Grand Rapids, Stoutmyre, Barnes and Sotelo partnered with Lions & Rabbits Center for the Arts and a special group of creatives to use the plywood-covered windows as blank canvases, allowing artists to paint pieces that speak out about racism.
“The protests and riots that took place in Grand Rapids this past summer are part of the history of the city,” said Dale Robertson, president and CEO of the GRPM. “It is the privilege and place of the GRPM to preserve the stories of our community. To that end, these local artists’ statements speak to us on the ideals of justice, systemic racism, and racial reckoning. They represent and memorialize the community response to the destruction to our downtown, which occurred at first light the following day. The museum is pleased to be able to host these works and connect with the community in this way.”
The three pieces that Stoutmyre, Barnes and Sotelo created after the riots for the Windows GR project to help businesses recover from its damages will be a part of the GRPM’s permanent collections and will be on display on the second floor. The artifacts also can be explored on the museum’s online collections database, available at grpmcollections.org.
The exhibit will be included with general admission.
“As a museum, we believe in the importance of building a collection to share stories that reflect the diversity of our community,” said Alex Forist, GRPM’s chief curator. “Sharing the truth about history isn’t always going to be easy, but it’s important that we tell stories as accurately and completely as possible in order to preserve pieces from this moment in time for future generations. By purchasing these pieces, the museum is honored to assist with amplifying the voices of Black and brown artists in our community.”