Community Connections: The Promise

The Promise

August 19  October 23, 2022

Please join us for The Promise Community Day, September 25 from 1 PM – 4 PM

The Promise is a research and artmaking program which began in March 2022, facilitating collective healing, reflection, and creative expression for members of the Black community in Louisville who have been affected by gun violence and is part of the Speed’s Community Connections workshop series, building on the public engagement framework that grew out of the Museum’s 2021 exhibition Promise, Witness, Remembrance, which reflected on the life of Breonna Taylor, her killing in 2020, and the year of protests that followed in Louisville and around the world.

Led by multimedia artist and educator Roberto Visani and co-facilitated by Dr. Gaberiel Jones, Jr., assistant professor at the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences, The Promise workshop series from late March through June 2022 combines evidence-based participatory action research with education and facilitated discussion on the root causes of gun violence, its effects on the Black community, and racial trauma, as well as extensive mentorship and resources for participants to explore new artmaking techniques for self-expression. Selected through a research study recruitment process, The Promise’s eight Louisville-based participants, who range in age from early 30s to early 70s, identify as Black and have been personally impacted by gun violence. Throughout July 2022, each of the participants will create a work of art in a medium of their choice as a culminating project, with training, materials, funding, fabrication, and finishing support provided by the Speed. The final works will be displayed in The Promise exhibition, opening August 19, 2022. The majority of the participants were not practicing artists prior to joining the workshop.

The idea for an artmaking workshop around guns at the Speed came from discussions with members of the Promise, Witness, Remembrance local steering committee. The Promise research project and workshop series were developed in collaboration with the Speed Research Committee, in partnership with the University of Louisville and Virginia Commonwealth University, under the leadership of Interim Director of Education and Community Engagement Strategist Toya Northington. Members include Dr. Lesley Harris, Dr. Jelani Kerr, Dr. Emma Sterrett-Hong, and Dr. Maurice Gattis.

The Promise centers on the use of Photovoice, a visual research method in which participants take photographs to document and reflect on issues affecting themselves and their communities. Through group analysis and critical conversation, this methodology aims to empower members of marginalized communities as catalysts for personal and collective social change. The workshop series is structured in three phases: Background Information, featuring discussion and education on the history and cultural context of firearms in the United States; Ideation, exploring the work of artists who use guns as materials and subject matter across a wide range of mediums and methods; and finally Process and Creation, in which participants create new works of art as a culminating project. The final works will be displayed in The Promise exhibition alongside selections from the Photovoice project, quotes, and written reflections by participants.

The Promise exhibition, on view at the Speed from August 19 to October 23, 2022, will showcase works created by the workshop participants, including sculpture, audio/video, documentary filmmaking, and photography from the Photovoice project. The exhibition will also feature works by Roberto Visani, whose work engages with guns and their history within Black communities, as well as works by fellow workshop leaders Dr. Gaberiel Jones, Jr. and Toya Northington. Programming activation around the exhibition will include a public reception on September 16 at the Museum’s monthly After Hours night, as well as lectures, discussions, art therapy activities, and a community event around gun violence prevention and education.

Support for The Promise is provided by the Ford Foundation, an Engagement Scholarship Consortium Research/Creative Activities Grant through the University of Louisville, a Fund for the Arts ArtsMatch grant, and Falls Art Foundry, who donated their space for the community iron pour. To learn more, visit speedmuseum.org.

About Roberto Visani
Roberto Visani is a multimedia artist residing in Brooklyn, New York. Primarily working in sculpture, his artwork examines the Black body, often through the reinterpretation of historical artworks and artifacts. He has exhibited at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, NY, The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY, The Bronx Museum, NY, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SF, and Barbican Galleries, London. Visani has been awarded residencies from Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Chelsea College of Art, Abrons Art Center and Art Omi. He is a NYFA Fellow in Sculpture and was a Fulbright Fellow to Ghana. His work has been reviewed by the New York Times, Artforum, ARTnews, Hyperallergic, and Frieze, among others. Since 2004 he has taught at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where he is an associate professor of art.  Visani recently had a solo exhibition at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center in Vermont, titled Form/Reform: the cardboard slave kits and the Myth of Identity (2022).