| Echoes of the Heart
Title: Echoes of the Heart
Keenly aware that this area surrounding Marquette Park is nationally infamous as the neighborhood where rocks were thrown at Martin Luther King during an open housing march, the multi-racial discussion group agreed to come together to try to speak frankly about their experiences of race and the neighborhood.
This unexpected use of a familiar form—the decorative church banner—made it possible to create a text piece on race that would be seen and read by many people who might otherwise not participate in such a conversation across racial lines. Participants in the ongoing discussion group shared stories of anger, grief, fear, and embarrassment. They also analyzed structures of language and politics that framed their personal experiences, even as they struggled to find a personal, practical basis for fulfilling spiritual commitments to reach out across the constructed barriers of racial difference.
The gender and race of those quoted in the banners are often quite apparent, despite lack of identifying information with each quote. Although collectively the banners are clearly an anti-racist project, the collection of quotations points, not to an overriding truth about race and racism, but to how subjectivity arises out of particular experience. The act of sharing and examining private thoughts with others creates the possibility of forging new collective experience.
Apparent within the dialogic structure of the text is the way in which subjectivity changes over time. People present themselves, not as standard historical types, but as individual human beings whose thoughts and reactions shift according to accumulated experience.
It’s important that this piece was made in conjunction with the Southwest Catholic Cluster Project, an anti-racism group in the area. This meant that the project arose from the community and that there was a structure in place through which the work could be shown a various community sites and thus become a part of an ongoing dialogue.
Gude comments, “ If we believe that as creators of culture, we have the potential to be shapers of society, we must develop effective and respectful aesthetic practices in which communities are seen as multi-vocal communities of discourse, rooted in their histories, open in their possibilities, and rich in complexity and contradiction.”