February Roundtable Recap- Social Justice

Hello! My name is Marissa Stewart, and I am a graduate assistant at the Kennedy Museum of Art. I am also the facilitator for a new program called Roundtable Discussions, this is the Roundtable Recap.

The Kennedy Museum of Art premiered a new program last month called Roundtable Discussions. The basis of this new program was to create a space for conversations and discussions into social issues, trends, and challenges using museum collections as a springboard for conversation. For the month of February, the topic was social justice and focused a specific eye towards protests and civil rights. The set-up of the program is typically this: the first ten minutes or so are for introductions, this includes introductions of participants, the facilitator, and the subject matter. This part I think is really important in creating a good foundation of openness between individuals taking part in the Roundtable Discussions because, as the world has been navigating through a pandemic, being able to create a sense of community any time you can is vital. This also allows for individuals to feel at ease and start to familiarize themselves with other participants.

The next part of the set-up is the presentation portion, which can take many forms, but for February we went with a PowerPoint presentation that showcased the materials being used. The visual materials for the presentation were 3 images by James Karales which came from the Kennedy Museum of Art collections and 3 images from the George Floyd protests during the summer of 2020. We used these materials to talk about topics like what is the role of art, identity, oppression, and protests. During the presentation is when the discussions really started, and the participants for the February discussion began getting engaged with the materials.

The participants who joined us for the event came from all different backgrounds and had different insight to bring to the table. It was so rewarding to have a conversation around a topic that is so important and happening in society today but to also have that conversation freely. Everyone who joined was respectful and seemed to be use this space to investigate their stance on certain topics while also being educated on ones they were unfamiliar with. Being a part of the conversation myself while also being the facilitator was a real treat.

In the spirit of creating community and space, a PDF document has been created of the February roundtable to be a resource. It includes the slides from the presentation, information for each slide, and sources/links for further information.

I hope after reading this some interest has been piqued and you might check out our March Roundtable which will look at Women’s Representations in Art!