This episode, co-host Paul Farber speaks to multidisciplinary artist Lava Thomas. They catch up about a major project a long time in the making – a monument honoring Dr. Maya Angelou – prolific poet, Civil Rights activist, and American memoirist. The monument is slated for installation outside of San Francisco’s main public library in the near future. Lava’s monumental journey begins with bike tours with her family in Washington D.C. and makes a sharp turn in when she learned monuments had the power to embody ideology and ignite a movement.
We kickoff a new season of the Monument Lab podcast Future Memory with Yolanda Wisher and Trapeta B. Mayson, two renowned former poet laureates of Philadelphia. Wisher and Mayson are the creators of ConsenSIS, a project that summons “sisterly history” to preserve the past and present literary legacy of Black women and femme poets in Philadelphia. ConsenSIS is a part of Monument Lab’s nationwide Re:Generation project, supported by the Mellon Foundation’s Monuments Project. Co-host Li Sumpter speaks to Wisher and Mayson about ConsenSIS, their upcoming event, The Clearing (inspired by Toni Morrison), and the meaningful historic images and authors that guide their project’s vision.
MADAD’s Damon Davis, Mallory Rukhsana Nezam, and De Nichols work to reimagine how joy, justice, and interactivity improve public spaces in St. Louis. The group started their collaborations during the making of Mirror Casket, a sculpture, performance, and visual call to action composed in the aftermath of the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014. Mirror Casket is now in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Their new project, Black Memory STL: Division, Displacement, and Local Diaspora, is a multi-year series of public art installations and interventions in partnership with the Brickline Greenway development and the Griot Museum of Black History. MADAD are 2020 Monument Lab Fellows.
The phrase “Museums Are Not Neutral” is both a hashtag and the rallying words of a movement. This mantra has already changed the way museums are visited, curated, and protested. Amplified by our guests art worker La Tanya S. Autry and museum educator Mike Murawski, #MuseumsAreNotNeutral has been shared more than a million times online by museum curators and educators, and by colleagues in related fields like libraries and archives. We speak to Autry and Murawski about the roots of their Museums Are Not Neutral campaign, how they collaborate and build across social media, and how museums can and should transform as spaces of connection.
This episode, we speak to Nancy Hill about cultural memory and timely lessons from the 1918 pandemic. The parallels between then and now are astounding, informative, and troubling. Hill is one of the Philadelphia-based organizers of the Mütter Museum’s exhibition on the 1918 pandemic, Spit Spreads Death. She shares insights with us about how the pandemic is and is not remembered today.
Illuminating the connections between language and power, we speak with independent historical strategist Free Egunfemi Bangura about her work in “Commemorative Justice." As Chair of Richmond's History and Culture Commission and a 2019 Monument Lab Fellow, she also breaks down her projects that have left an imprint on Richmond, and how traveling outside of the country has shifted her thinking on her homegrown projects.