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Exhibit in the Grossman Gallery will run Jan. 24 – March 1

Karina Aguilera Skvirsky, assistant professor of art, is using photography to shed light on the dark past of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, her childhood home. A unique exhibition of her photographs, titled “North, East, South,” will be displayed from Jan. 24 – March 1 in the Richard A. and Rissa W. Grossman Gallery of the Williams Visual Arts Building.

An opening reception for the exhibit will be held 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6 in the Grossman Gallery. Skvirsky will deliver a brown bag lecture noon Tuesday, Feb. 12 in the Williams Center for the Arts room 108. Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, contact the gallery at x5831.

The exhibit tells the story of the little known, yet all too frequent, lynchings that occurred in several cities around Maryland’s Washington, D.C. enclave during the 19th and 20th centuries. It is described by Skvirsky as an interpretation of the significance of place in history.

“Through this project and exhibition,” explains Skvirsky, “I am interested in revisiting sites of my childhood while focusing on their broader implications as sites of collective memory to initiate a dialogue about the intersection of American history and place.”

The project will include a series of color photographs of the D.C. – Maryland border, the Mason-Dixon Line, and lynching sites that occurred in the area as well as a video that “explores the often arbitrary nature of borders – both geographic and cultural,” says Skvirsky.

“The video component will juxtapose three silhouetted actors reading from various news accounts of a lynching that occurred in Salisbury, Md., in 1930 in front of a local courthouse,” she continues. “While the Salisbury press chose not to print anything descriptive about the lynching, the Baltimore Sun and the Afro American covered the lynching extensively, albeit in different ways.”

Skvirsky began this project over two years ago as a fellow at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. It was here that she first learned about the lynchings that took place on Maryland’s eastern shore from Sherrilyn Ifill, professor of law at the University of Maryland, who was writing a book about it at the time.

“It was a shock to me to learn that Maryland a short distance where I grew up and the eastern shore close to where I summered had such an ugly past that was invisible to most,” says Skvirsky. “By revisiting these sites in present day, my photographs will underscore what is visible—the site’s banality, the fact that they are public spaces that are in current use, and the lack of awareness by the public about what they represent. In this way, I hope to photographically memorialize the public sites that have historically been ignored.”

“‘North, East, South’ seeks to integrate personal memories within a historical context,” she continues. “This approach to making art blends the personal with the public, questioning standard narratives about American history.”

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