DALLAS, Texas (June 16, 2021)—The Nasher Sculpture Center announces its second offsite Nasher Public project: Lauren Cross’s A Moment of Silence / Let Freedom Ring presented in partnership with For Oak Cliff, an organization and community center that works to liberate the South Dallas neighborhood of Oak Cliff from systemic oppression. A Moment of Silence / Let Freedom Ring will be on view from June 19 – September 19, 2021.
For her Nasher Public installation at For Oak Cliff, Lauren Cross takes inspiration from the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Galveston, Texas, June 19, 1865, two and half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The spot at which slaves in Texas were formally informed of their freedom is now a parking lot, its significance indicated by a simple historical marker near a bench and a few trees. The simple and understated marking of the site belittles its historical importance yet is consistent with the way the lives of African Americans in the United States have been overlooked and underappreciated. For Cross, that day in June 1865—what came to be known as Juneteenth—also signifies the starting point of a journey that continues to this day.
The announcement of emancipation in Galveston was just the start of informing slaves in Texas of their freedom. In an installation in the lobby of the new For Oak Cliff headquarters, a former YMCA, Cross imagines the word spreading from the coast, person to person, through towns, across fields, and along the rivers, streams, and creeks that run through the landscape. All of these elements—words, trees, water—figure prominently in her installation. Silhouettes of trees stand witness on the windows of the building, imaginatively connecting the trees in Galveston with those in East Texas, where she spent summers visiting her grandparents, to those around the campus at For Oak Cliff: silent witnesses to freedom as it spread across the state. A limpid blue wash projected across the windows and walls recalls the waterways forded to bring the word of freedom. Cross makes the connection plain in a sign extolling the sacrifices made to carry the word of freedom that accompanies the installation. Banners and images of Juneteenth parades, past and present, call to mind the journey of the word of freedom in 1865, as well as more recent civil rights marches, reminding one that the journey continues.
To animate and expand upon the installation, on June 18, 6-7 p.m., Cross will host an online panel discussion about Juneteenth with artist Vicki Meek, and KYmberly Keaton, founder and director of ART|library deco an online African American digital art library. To register for the conversation, please follow this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-conversation-on-juneteenth-tickets-159735546319
On Saturday, June 19 at 8:30 a.m., Lauren Cross will lead a 2.5-mile Juneteenth Walk around the For Oak Cliff property at 907 E. Ledbetter Dr., Dallas TX, 75216.
A later unveiling celebration for the outdoor neon arbor designed for the project is be planned for early July.
About For Oak Cliff
Cross’s installation reinforces the mission of For Oak Cliff, which aims “to liberate Oak Cliff from systemic oppression.” Started in 2015 by Taylor Toynes as a festival to raise funds for school supplies for neighborhood kids and schools, For Oak Cliff is now an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization, neighborhood advocate, and community center. For Oak Cliff is organized on the four pillars of Education, Advocacy, Community Building, and the Arts and provides culturally responsive initiatives in South Oak Cliff to liberate the community from systemic oppression, create a culture of education, and increase social mobility and social capital. The organization recently purchased the former Moreland YMCA. Cross’s installation was commissioned as part of the celebration of the re-opening of the facility as the new home of For Oak Cliff on Juneteenth 2021.
About Lauren Cross
Lauren Cross is an artist, curator, and scholar, who holds an M.F.A. in Visual Arts from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, and a Ph.D. in Multicultural Women's and Gender Studies from Texas Woman's University, Denton. She is also the founder of the arts non-profit, WoCA Projects, in Fort Worth, Texas. Cross is recognized nationally and internationally for her art practice and community work including featured works in museums and galleries across the U.S. and the 2015 Edinburgh Art Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. She received the Third Annual Visionary Award by Fort Worth Weekly magazine in 2013 and was named one of Dallas' "100 Creatives" by the Dallas Observer in 2015. In 2018, Cross was selected as a Visiting Artist for the Center for Creative Connections at the Dallas Museum of Art, and an inaugural Carter Community Artist for the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. In 2019, Cross was recognized as one of 13 Women Forwarding Fort Worth by Fort Worth Magazine. For more information about Cross, visit www.laurenecross.com. Cross also is Assistant Professor at the University of North Texas College of Visual Arts and Design and serves as the program coordinator and core faculty member for the Interdisciplinary Art and Design Studies program. Her research addresses critical multicultural approaches in arts practice, arts entrepreneurship, curatorial studies, museum studies, and art history. Cross has been a frequent presenter at academic and public conferences across the country and internationally, and is the director of the award-winning documentary, The Skin Quilt Project, which was produced in 2010 and was an official selection at the 2010 International Black Women's Film Festival in Berkeley, California.
About Nasher Public
Nasher Public is an ongoing, two-pronged public art initiative which aims to generate access to public art by North Texas artists at the Nasher and throughout the greater Dallas community. The project launched first at the Nasher in a newly formed gallery, presenting monthly exhibitions over the next year and is now followed by an ongoing series of offsite exhibitions in partnership with area businesses.