Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative exhibition at Frost Art Museum

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Edwive Seme/Staff Writer 

“After 50 years – Can we dream together,” is the title of this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration in The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum, curated by Kalai Mathee, assistant dean for Evaluation and Assessment and professor in the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. Done annually, this exhibit devotes more than one day to the late civil rights activist and shows how his vision has spread; it focuses on the fight for freedom throughout the world and throughout time. It seeks to unite everyone in the spirit of equity. It reminds people of the injustice that has been done, not only in America, but also elsewhere. It helps students appreciate those who fought for a difference such as Martin Luther King Jr. and many others that believed in the same dream.

“For me, doing this exhibit is to try and make the students understand that there is a history we shouldn’t forget,” said Mathee, “and we need to fight to improve history and the treatment we get as minorities.”

On Jan. 7, the exhibit had its opening reception as part of the Museum’s Wednesday Art After Hours event. The show had a successful turnout with about 130 people showing up. The reception opened with Douglas Wartzok, provost and executive vice president at the University, and constituted of two speeches, a cover of “Ol’ Man River” by biology major Deandre Rogers and more civil rights songs by the University group Freedom Singers who contributes to the show every year. Food and beverages were served, and FIU’s Quartet provided music for the guests the whole night.

This year the show included a tribute to Nelson Mandela titled “Remembering Madiba: Prison to Presidency,” which gives the audience an overview of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, starting from early in his youth to his latest accomplishments, through a series of photographs and timeline format.  There were displays of civil rights speeches by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

In addition to these tributes, Mathee also included a collection of artworks by Cambodian artist Chanthou Oeur, who is a survivor of the Cambodian genocide by the Communist Party of Kampuchea in Cambodia and a freedom fighter. His works are inspired by his country’s history, representing his view on the brutal massacre.

It also has a painting by Pedro Jermaine and more art pertaining to the fight for freedom and equality by current University students and alumni.

“I wanted the students to think about what they learned from the documentaries and how can they juxtapose to where they are right now,” said Mathee.

Kaila Mathee sought not only to educate these students, but also have them reflect upon the on the past and present to educate others.

Topics in the artwork that students submitted range across various themes, from apartheid and racism to women’s rights and issues of gender.

The exhibit is currently available to the public for free on the first floor of the Museum and will stay open until Jan. 31..In the near future there will be a series of lectures, a movie night, a forum and a dinner to accompany the exhibit. More information on these upcoming events can be found at the Museum. 

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