Hello, my name is Danielle Burns, and I am the curator at the Houston Public Library. Currently on view at the African American Library at The Gregory School is Organized Love: Ideas on Non-Violence. In conjunction with the Menil Collection exhibition, Experiments with Truth: Gandhi and Images of Non-Violence, a larger initiative was created: Gandhi Legacy: Houston Perspectives. This initiative is an exploration of non-violence and the resonance of Mohandas Gandhi’s philosophy among Houston cultural organization. We are proud participants of this project and thank the Menil Collection for allowing us to share our perspective.
Nonviolence is an undeniable force that works to draw people together, often by courageously resisting injustice on one hand, while refusing to inflict suffering on the other.
Mohandas Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are both viewed as two of humanity’s most resonant voices for freedom, justice and equality. Their emphasis on influencing nonviolent action to achieve positive social change has inspired millions to continue their efforts through their own hands. These nonviolent social movements which were famously led by Gandhi and Dr. King have frequently posed the question, however, "Can nonviolence can be a force for change in society?"
When creating this show I wanted to organize an exhibition that would complement Experiments with Truth but also stay true to the Gregory School's mission as an archival library that concentrates on local history. Organized Love: Ideas on Non-Violence features sixteen contemporary artists and writers responding to the history of nonviolent struggle in Houston and its aesthetic. Artists formulate their own questions about nonviolent protest and defend their analyses of tensions within our constitutional democracy and the importance of maintaining a balance between: individual rights; liberty and equality; civil disobedience, and the rule of law through art. Inspired by various archival collections in the city, participating artists respond to materials found in the archives through a broad range of approaches and media, including painting, sculpture, and installation.
Gandhi and King’s message of non-violence resonate today in these contemporary times. These artists' interest in ideas of struggle and change resonate throughout the exhibition. Below are quotes from some of the participating artists about their experiences working on the exhibition.
Danielle Burns, Curator, Houston Public Library
“It was a pleasure researching through the archival materials at The Gregory School and an honor to exhibit in such a historical landmark. This is an amazing public resource that should be supported and visited by all Houstonians.” Rabe’a Ballin
“I really enjoyed being a part of this show. It was an awesome experience. I learned a lot about the history of Houston that I didn’t know before and the philosophies of Gandhi which really helped to grow the concepts of my work. Really great experience.” Jade Cooper
"I can't believe what an opportunity this is to join the great conversation about social justice. Understanding the experience of others, artists and personal testimonies from research, was both enlightening and enjoyable." Deon Robinson
"Found the whole process as very cathartic, illuminating and emotive. Revisited things I remembered as a kid - Stokely and Rap Brown on TV, the Yippies, Fannie Lou Hamer, Dr. King's funeral, Black Panther newspapers, Cassius Marcellus Clay running down Dowling in army boots and sweats- that had grown fuzzy and cold. Reaffirmed my responsibility for my own memories, again." Garry Reece