In Memory's Grove

Commemorative Art by Kevin Sipp and Keith Morris Washington

In this exhibition, two important African American artists explored the legacies of tragic loss and human rights violations, with particular attention to the history of lynching and racial violence in the United States.

In a large sculptural installation, "Strange Fruit Hanging from the Tree of Life: Reflections of Bruno," Atlanta-based artist Kevin Sipp recalled the death of Renaissance philosopher Giordano Bruno, burned alive by the Inquisition in 1600, as a point of entry into the long history of victims of injustice and intolerance the world over. Sipp's "memory tree" projected the sounds of prayers and laments for the lost, from Bruno to lynching victim Emmet Till, organized around the haunting anti-lynching song, "Strange Fruit."

Boston-based Keith Morris Washington took visitors on an uncanny journey through American landscapes of pain and memory, through shroud-like paintings depicting now-pastoral settings where lynchings once were perpetrated. Washington's murals subtly juxtapose bodies, trees, and the land, memorializing the victims of America's long history of domestic terrorism against persons of color. 

The opening of the exhibition was marked by an observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the lynching of Emmett Till, murdered at age 14 in Mississippi on the night of August 28, 1955. 

Students line the entryway to the Dreitzer Gallery in Spingold Theater at Brandeis University, each reading names of the victims of lynching throughout the history of the United States.

 






"Strange Fruit Hanging from the Tree of Life" - A sculptural installation created by artist Kevin Sipp and students in Mark Auslander's anthropology class.

 








Keith Morris Washington (left) and Kevin Sipp pose for a photo in the gallery during the exhibition of their works.

Click here to see samples of the artwork displayed by Keith Morris Washington. Courtesy of the National Center for Afro-American Artists. Click here to read a 2003 interview with Kevin Sipp and see examples of his installations. Courtesy of Drylongso.com.