Three Rochester artists will headline a series of discussions about race and how race has influenced their lives and their artwork.
The series, called “Talking Race,” involves three talks held throughout the month of May starting Friday. Hosted by the Rochester Art Center, each talk will spotlight a different local artist.
Organizers say the series of talks are an extension of the touring exhibit “RACE: Are we so different?” organized by the Science Museum of Minnesota. The exhibit recently concluded a five-month run at the Apache Mall and Rochester Public Library.
As a way to stimulate programming that coincided with the topic, the museum made micro-grants available that groups could apply for.
The three artists are kyong juhn, a photographer known for documenting scenes from her walking projects; Bobby Marines, a visual artist and painter whose works explore a viewer’s sense of environment and perception; and Shar Noor Shafqat, a visual artist and textile designer whose most recent exhibit was staged at the RAC.
The series is being moderated by Nicole Nfonoyim-Hara, host of the local public television show “R-Town.”
The talks will take place 6 p.m. Friday, May 3; 3 p.m. Saturday, May 18; and 6 p.m. Friday, 24, with juhn, Shafqat and Marines as featured speakers respectively.
“We saw it as an opportunity to kind of expand on the science museum’s RACE exhibit,” said Haley Bice, a RAC grant writer who, along with intern Chris Martinez, obtained a grant from the museum to fund the series.
Bice said she sees the talks as an opportunity to expand on the museum exhibit but from an artistic point of view. It is also a chance to bring the discussion down to an individual perspective. While the exhibit focused broadly on race and how individuals are effected by racial identity, it didn’t delve into individual experiences.
“We thought it would be great to get these three artists to share their individual perspectives and have a conversation around it,” Bice said.
Bice said the exhibit drove home to her how differently people experience race. She noted that as a white female, her race is not something she has to give a lot of thought about in her daily life. But people of color do not have that luxury, because of the way race has impacted everything from their job prospects to their housing choices.
“As a white person, it’s not something that I consider on a daily basis, but these artists are considering it as they make their work and as they go about their daily lives,” Bice said.
The events will incorporate audience interactivity and questions as well.
Brian Austin, RAC executive director, noted that both juhn and Shafqat have had their work exhibited at the art center in the past. And Marines is going to be part of an upcoming show at the RAC called “Mind Matters,” which is a collaboration between the RAC and Mayo Clinic.