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The Black Cherry Tree Project: 33 Victims – Inaugural Exhibition

April 16, 2022 @ 5:00 pm April 30, 2022 @ 6:00 pm

The Black Cherry Tree Project opens the first of its public exhibitions since its inception in 2020. This community art project works to commemorate the 33 documented lynching victims of Jefferson county, AL by working alongside local artists to create commemorative works in honor of each respective victim. By working with community organizers, activists, artists, and the Jefferson County Memorial Project; local artists are provided with platforms to discuss and interpret information; as well as resources to aid in their unique creations. The public is invited to attend the opening reception on April 16th at Gallery Vox which also marks the 59th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. Artworks will be on display until April 30th 2022 by appointment only. As part of The Black Cherry Tree Project, 33 black cherry tree saplings will also be planted across Birmingham parks to honor each victim.This exhibition series will feature artworks in a range of mediums to commemorate 18 of the 33 lynching victims – Lewis Houston (11/24/1883), Tom Collins (4/22/1886), Otis Brown (4/24/1886), Monroe Johnson (9/28/1887), Hardy Posey (4/23/1888), George Meadows (1/15/1889), John Steele (9/27/1889), Henry Smith (11/16/1890), James Thomas (7/03/1897), Unknown (5/11/1901), Jerry Johnson (9/03/1907), Elijah Nelms (7/29/1908), William Miller (8/04/1908), John Thomas (4/25/1909), Fred Spencer (6/1910), John Chandler (1/28/1912), William Smith (11/01/1912), and O.D. Henderson (5/09/1940). Exhibiting artists include – Dikerius Blevins, Liza Butts, Merrilee Challiss, Victoria L. Coman-Jackson, Rosa Delgado, Jameson Evans, Cicely Hill, Lakesha Lee, Tara Lee, Leanna Lesley, Helga Mendoza, Miriam Omura, Celeste Pfau, Sonja Rieger, Tracie Noles Ross and Eric Wright.In June of 2021, project founders Carey Fountain and Noah Duffy led a series of community conversations to gather input ensuring The Black Cherry Tree Project was structured in a way that most aligned with community desires on how to both confront and reconcile with Birmingham’s history of lynching and racism. The project hopes to use art and community dialogue to educate and create a legacy for victims of racial terror outside the tragic nature of their deaths. By continuing to provide opportunities for local artists to participate in creating commemorative artworks, The Black Cherry Tree Project is working to develop a dedicated commemorative art collection that catalogs how the Birmingham community is reckoning with its prejudiced past. Through the planting of the 33 commemorative black cherry tree saplings across public parks, it hopes to extend this ongoing conversation transgenerationally. This project is made possible by the support of the National Performance Network’s (NPN) Southern Artists for Social Change grant, The Verdant Fund, Fountain Heights Farm, Jefferson County Memorial Project, LaShawnda Crowe Storm, Arlington House, T. Marie King and individual donors.

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