ArtWatch Promotes Peace at African American Museum

By Editorial Team on September 5, 2017

In line with the recent appearance of an inflatable Trump chicken on the Ellipse, and last week’s resignation of all 17 members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, local guerrilla artists continue to take action. Visitors waiting in line on Sunday to enter the National Museum of African American History and Culture were greeted by DC ArtWatch members, who handed out small paintings of uplifting messages and images.

To show support for the museum, visitors, and staff, artists distributed painted stones that included quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Maya Angelou, lyrics from gospel songs, and portraits of figures such as Fannie Lou Hamer and Ida B. Wells. This intervention was developed to counteract recent displays of hate around the country, including at the Smithsonian museums.

Anthony Lee of Boston, Massachusetts chose a rock that read, “We shall not be moved.” He responded to the artists’ efforts by saying, “These rocks will be around for 100 years. Our grandchildren will have these rocks.” ArtWatch member Wendy Sittner explained, “We painted our stones to communicate love and peace, to figuratively disarm people who might use words and actions that spread hate. Also, stones and rocks represent strength and resilience, which are qualities I see in the culture that the museum celebrates.”

ArtWatch is a collective of artists from Washington, DC; Maryland; and Virginia who use the power of visual communication to express their support for true democratic values, such as inclusion, tolerance, equality under the law, and stewardship of the environment.

Crowds formed to select individual rocks of kindness. Credit: Wendy Sittner
Over 100 painted rocks were handed out to museum visitors. Credit: Wendy Sittner

(via ArtWatch. Photo and text courtesy Wendy Sittner.)