Art in Motion

530_slavery_260x195.jpgYesterday afternoon, my husband and I visited the Underground Railroad Freedom Center, an impressive new facility situated in an inspiring location along the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati. This was not a typical “museum” experience, where your focus is on objects, but rather a multi-media presentation of stories about the era of the Underground Railroad and on through contemporary times. Mostly told with plaques and photographs, and some interactive exhibits for families, I found that I was most moved—not surprisingly—by every story that was expressed through art. In particular, the film a “Suite for Freedom,” was an amazing trilogy of three artists’ animated shorts. By using three distinct styles of art, tied together by a powerful score, the film tells the stories of “freedom and unfreedom,” the bitterness of slavery, and the triumph of the Underground Railroad. Completely riveting. And, at the film’s end, the auditorium ceiling becomes ablaze with a celestial “night sky” that maps out the stars as they appeared on the night of January 1, 1863—the date of the Emanicipation Proclamation.

The film’s contributing artists include Aleksandra Korejwo of Poland, who uses colored salt moved with a condor feather to create her animation; Caroline Leaf, of Seattle, who uses pencil and graphite powder (see art, at top); and Luc Perez of France, who uses acrylics, oil sticks and pastels. I was thrilled to find portions of their animation in an online “exhibition.” Check it out, but of course, if you’re in Cincinnati, you can check it out live at the Freedom Center.

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