Phoenix/ Arts & Culture
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Published on January 26, 2024
ASU Art Museum Unveils "Twin Flames" Exhibition Echoing Floyd Protests from Minneapolis to PhoenixSource: ASU Art Museum

In a move to bring the visceral experience of protest to Arizonans, ASU Art Museum in Tempe has opened its doors to "Twin Flames: The George Floyd Uprising from Minneapolis to Phoenix," with hundreds of George Floyd protest signs, art, and messages of solidarity. The exhibition collects and shares the voices of those who stood against racial injustice and is drawn from the spontaneous offerings made at George Floyd Square. Showcasing until July 28, the poignant materials have travelled from where they amassed in Minneapolis, marking the spot where Floyd was wrongfully killed.

These symbols of activism and mourning were originally preserved by the George Floyd Global Memorial, with Executive Director Jeanelle Austin stewards of the up to 10,000 objects collected, according to Phoenix New Times. "We’re sending 500 voices down to Phoenix," Austin told the publication in an expression of continued solidarity and collective demand for change. The unique collaboration between Arizonians and the Memorial resulted in a community-led exhibition that aims to foster much-needed dialogue on systemic racism and police brutality.

The exhibition details five themes - Say Their Names, Justice?, Black Lives Matter, Community Brings Safety, and Solidarity. Each section resonates with the local Arizona context, a region not unfamiliar with allegations of police misconduct themselves. As Southwest Contemporary reports, ASU Art Museum is utilizing this exhibition to align with its mission of centering art in the service of social good and community well-being, as highlighted by curator Brittany Corrales.

Roots of this exhibition stem from an auction for the right to display these memorial offerings at an event in Minneapolis. The ASU Center for Work and Democracy emerged victorious, thereby planting the seeds for this powerful showcase. The curation process involved community members as young as nine, reflecting a truly grassroots selection process - a testament to how deeply society has been touched by the events surrounding George Floyd's death and their aftermath.

This isn't just about mourning; it's about sparking action as well. Amid the powerful displays, QR codes dispersed around the room point to the Black Lives Matter Phoenix Metro website, encouraging visitors to get involved with local anti-racism and social justice initiatives. The exhibition, revealing in its simplicity, pushes audiences toward engagement — from silent discos to somber reflections, as explained in an interview by Phoenix New Times.

With pieces that range from children's handwritten posters to a large-scale portrait of Emmett Till, it hits different notes of Black American tragedy and resilience. The exhibit serves as a reminder that although the media cycle may quiet, the voices for change continue to resound, Austin articulated to Southwest Contemporary. Indeed, whilst these pieces were once roadside reminders of a community's agony and outcry, they now stand in a museum space, challenging visitors not just to observe, but to act – because the people have spoken, and they continue to speak through the visceral offerings laid down with hope and despair.