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"In the Spirit of Martin: The Living Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr."
2003-08-29 until 2003-11-09
Memphis Brooks Museum
Memphis, TN, USA United States of America

In the Spirit of Martin: The Living Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ¾ the first major Smithsonian exhibition of visual arts dedicated to celebrating this American hero ¾ features 120 works by prominent and emerging artists, including folk artists. The exhibition is a visual testament to the enduring power of King’s life and work. Circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), In the Spirit of Martin will open at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis, Tennessee on August 29, 2003 and remain on view through November 9, 2003.

"It is an honor for the Brooks to be selected as a venue for this important and moving Smithsonian exhibition," said Kaywin Feldman, Director of the Brooks. "We hope that no child in our community will miss this unique opportunity to experience King’s legacy through the moving power of art. We are extremely grateful to International Paper for helping us to bring this exhibition to Memphis."

Martin Luther King, Jr. is recognized universally as one of the greatest civil rights leaders of all time. Beginning with an impressionistic look at 300 years of resistance to oppression on the part of African Americans, the exhibition debuts King in his role as a primary player in the 1955-56 Montgomery bus boycott. At that time, King was emerging as a passionate religious and community leader. The exhibition follows the development of King as a world voice in nonviolent social action ¾ moving through the mid-1960s, the height of the Vietnam war, his assassination, his status as an icon, and the lasting influence of his message.

In the Spirit of Martin includes works by such artists as Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Gordon Parks, Andy Warhol, Martin Puryear, Norman Rockwell, Romare Bearden, Sam Gilliam, Robert Raushenberg, Sue Coe, Emanuel Martinez, Faith Ringgold, Charles Alston, Thornton Dial, and Ben Shahn.

With works created curing King’s lifetime, as well as those completed as recently as 2001, the exhibition is evidence that King’s message and memory have continued to shape American life. "From among the innumerable exhibitions SITES has issued over the years, In the Spirit is one of the most important," said Anna R. Cohn, SITES’ director. "It speaks profoundly to the lasting impact of Dr. King’s influence, transcending both time and medium to honor his voice through great artistry. At this moment, when the dual challenges of courage and sacrifice are at the forefront of the American experience, we are especially gratified to share In the Spirit of Martin with the public."

Jacob Lawrence
Confrontation at the Bridge, 1975
Copyright Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence
Courtesy of the Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation

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