Linda St. John 900 Skinny Girls

LOWELL, MA - The Revolving Museum announced that a portion of the American Visionary Art Museum’s groundbreaking, internationally-acclaimed “Race, Class, Gender ≠ (does not equal) Character” exhibit will be its next featured collection, running from November 4 through Feb. 4, 2007 in the Museum’s main gallery.  Works from world-renowned artists serve as reminders that one’s character cannotbe judged by the human eye.  Acclaimed exhibition debunks negative stereotyping and provides an unforgettable, highly personal experience.

The exhibition is a riveting collection of paintings, sculptures, and mixed-media pieces that convey the message that, just as a book cannot be judged by its cover, a person’s character cannot be judged by race, class, gender, politics, nationality, religion or other broad associations.  Rather, character is associated with those attributes that people truly value most in themselves and in others, thereby transcending negative stereotypes.

Featuring nearly 300 works from more than 30 celebrated artists from around the world, the full “Character” collection was seen by more than 80,000 visitors during its year-long debut at Baltimore’s famed American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM), which ended last month.  Among those viewing the exhibition was Nobel Prize Winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  “I hope that people will go away from here [Race, Class, Gender…] aware that we belong in one family,” Tutu said, “...that we can be human only together.  This is a wonderful place, isn't it?"

 “Character” is AVAM’s first traveling exhibit, and The Revolving Museum is the only other venue in the country hosting the production.  AVAM (www.avam.org) has been designated by Congress as America’s official national museum, education center and repository wholly dedicated to visionary art.

Leon Kennedy Harriet Tubman“We’re delighted to bring this profoundly important exhibition to Lowell and New England,” said Jerry Beck, founder and artistic director of The Revolving Museum.  “In a world that seems so determined to sort its population into subjective categories of good and evil, ‘Character’ reminds us that everyone smiles in the same language and everyone feels the pain of injustice.”

 Among the featured works in The Revolving Museum’s “Character” collection is the ornate throne of Mr. Imagination.  With humble beginnings, as a street artist, Mr. Imagination, or Mr. "I" as his friends call him, took two bullets in the stomach while being rolled.  After an extended stay in suspended animation (coma) Mr. I awoke with a new vision.  Since then his creations, primarily sculptures have brought the Chicago-born self-taught artist world fame as an internationally known and collected figure. 

“The Revolving Museum has always celebrated community involvement, diversity and youth education in its various art projects,” Beck said.  “Having ‘Character’ here is especially appropriate, since Lowell’s population of foreign-born residents is roughly twice the national average, and some 30 nationalities are represented in Lowell’s public schools.  The support and cooperation of civic leaders, educators, volunteers and businesses from Lowell and beyond the region has just been phenomenal.”

 “Character’s” guest curator is painter Lily Yeh, founder of The Village of Arts and Humanities in North Philadelphia.  Inspired by the writings of Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and Nelson Mandela, Yeh’s work alongside of “discarded people, on discarded land, using discarded objects” cuts through racial, class, geographic and ethnic separations to connect the heart, mind and emotions.

“Ms. Yeh is simply the Mother Teresa of global community art, said Rebecca Hoffberger, AVAM director, who will present a commentary on the show and its significance in today’s society on “Character’s” opening night at The Revolving Museum.  “She has artistically transformed whole neighborhoods and brought dignity, respect and joy to the earth’s poorest people.”

More About the Images

"Skinny Girls"
Growing up poor had a significant effect on the life and work of Linda St. John.  Utilizing scraps of cloth and bits of found objects, a young St. John made dolls to play with.  As an adult, she continues to make the intricately designed clothing for her "Skinny Girls," which often represent both the "have's" and "have not's" of her memories.

Harriet Tubman
In 1978, Leon Kennedy began painting on bed sheets because he ran out of canvas.  “My work deals with the Black man’s fight to be free,” he says. “My earlier work deals with art for art’s sake.  Today, my work is more spiritual and political; it conveys love and unity.”

Benny Carter When Justice BeginsWhen Justice Begins
“I make art because I just have to,” Benny Carter says. In this case, Carter dedicates himself to righting the racist tendencies of those close to him in his youth by turning those memories on end.

About The Revolving Museum
Revolving Museum is an evolving laboratory of creative expression for people of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities who seek to experience the transformative power of art.  Through public art, exhibitions, and educational programs, The Museum promotes artistic exploration and appreciation; encourages community participation and growth; and provides opportunities for empowerment and social change.  The Revolving Museum is a 501(c)(3), charitable organization.

For more information visit : www.revolvingmuseum.org.

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