Everybody’s dead in the gallery

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By Joshua Rosario | Sept. 25, 2016

HurtJohn, an art movement comprised of over 300 artists, dancers, designers, painters, rappers, poets, actors, and songwriters, collaborated with Kean University’s Human Rights Institute and Dryfoos Gallery, to create an exhibit entitled “Movement,” which captures what the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement has been trying to spotlight throughout its rise in America.

“Everybody’s dead in the gallery, nobody is alive that is being depicted in the gallery” says John Hurtado, former Kean University student, founder of Hurtjohn, and co-curator of the Movement exhibit.

In the hands of a young, sad, black, male child in a hoodie, a newspaper he brings to his father in what appears to be a sequence of days represented by the shift in colors of the boy’s background and hoodie color. On the paper, each day a different name largely and boldly represented on the paper: Amadou Diallo, Tarika Wilson, Michael Brown, Jordan Davis , Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, Kathryn Johnston, Shereese Francis, Tyisha Miller, Ramarley Graham, and many others. What do these names have in common?  They are all names of victims of police violence. Names mentioned often in protest by the Black Lives Matter Movement.

“The thing that stands out to me about that piece is the fact that when you confront that piece, initially, you’re suppose to be a little confused like it’s supposed to be repetitive. What gives it context is Trayvon Martin because you kind of understand unconsciously, hold on, these are other people that have died and I don’t recognize their names. It makes you think about how many other people have gone under the radar without us actually realizing… without them actually getting their respect.”, Hurtado said. “And that piece we are talking about is a 100 piece set.  There’s only 30 pieces up in the gallery because only 30 could  fit but there’s 70 other names that the artist has, and the irony of it is that when we put up those 30 pieces, two days later, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile had died…two more names to add.”

“This is is an important topic that needs to be heard and seen in a certain way,” said Gabriel Kissoon, the 22-year-old co-curator and Kean alumnus.

Featuring such works by Jo-el Lopez’s Blackface Christian and Michael Brown by Fresco, the Curators said the exhibit has been well received by students. In the Dryfoos Gallery, the Curators left note cards for viewers to leave comments about the exhibit. Some of the note cards have been displayed on the HurtJohn Instagram page.

“Out of probably I think 70 notes left at the gallery, only one of them were in any way negative it was more so about the aesthetic, they felt it was a bit too graphic,” said Hurtado. “Either way, we knew showing these works were necessary, graphic or not.”

Along with the Movement exhibit, HurtJohn productions sponsors a gofundme campaign to bring more artists of color to Kean University.

“The reason I want to bring more people of color, including African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asians, and all other races to Kean or to the art world, is because Kean along with other major institutions is the first step towards shattering the glass ceiling,” said Hurtado. ”We will open the doors for those who come after us.  is is our mission. We will forever change the art world.”

The exhibit runs Monday to  Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. through September 28 at the Human Rights Institute and Dryfoos gallery, located in the Kean University library. To  find out more about HurtJohn movement follow @HurtjohnCircus on Instagram.

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