The Block Muse

Looking Forward to Spring: Art and Social Justice at the Block

Our spring exhibition, The Last Supper: 600 Plates Illustrating Final Meals of U.S. Death Row Inmates, deals with one of the most complicated, emotionally and politically charged topics of our time – capital punishment. To offer our audiences varying perspectives, time to reflect, and space for dialogue, we’ve put together a number of dynamic free public programs and robust community partnership events.

The programs range from providing the inside perspective into an exonerated death row inmate’s experience, to an open discussion of the role of viral video in assigning guilt, to an invitation to Evanston teenagers to explore issues of race and justice. Click here to learn more.

A significant part of the Block Museum’s vision is to use art to prompt discussion about issues that matter to our lives today. This goes hand-in-glove with our commitment to serving as a bridge between campus and community. With The Last Supper, which resonates so deeply with current events, we’ve partnered with a number of campus and community organizations to create events that address a gamut of issues around capital punishment, and which provide audiences opportunities for dialogue and discussion.

Our key partner for The Last Supper is the Northwestern University School of Law, which was influential in abolishing the death penalty in Illinois. Upcoming public programs include:

Opening Day Program
Saturday, May 9, 2pm
This day will feature not only an artist talk by Julie Green, but the artist speaking about issues of  representation, the criminal justice system, and social justice with Robert Owen, clinical professor of law at Northwestern, and Elliot Reichert, curator of special projects at the Block.

Seen from Inside: Perspectives on Capital Punishment
Tuesday, May 19, 6pm
Aiming to give visitors insight into the death penalty from multiple lenses, this free public program will include an excerpt of a capital case closing argument, conversation with a death row exoneree, and a presentation from a homicide victim’s sister.

When You CAN’T Shake It Off
Wednesday, May 27, 6pm
Block Cinema interim curator Will Schmenner and associate chair of theatre Harvey Young will discuss the role and use of social media in creating a national conversation about race, law, and police power, connecting current news and events with the exhibition.

To engage the larger Evanston community, we are working with organizations committed to social justice.

Artist Julie Green will visit Evanston Township Public High School on May 7 to lead a discussion on social justice, and to engage students in writing and art-making activities. Additionally, the Block and Youth Organization Umbrella (Y.O.U.) are partnering on Leadership Project Summer Camp through spring and summer. Inspired by the The Last Supper, Y.O.U. developed an entire summer curriculum on issues of race and justice. In the coming months, students will visit the Block and make their own statements about justice through art, writing, and activism.

The Block will also welcome community organizations involved in social justice, such as The James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, which dismantles the school-to-prison pipeline, for an Open House event this summer. Other key partners include the Northwestern Medill School of Journalism Justice Project and Northwestern’s Center for Civic Engagement.

The Last Supper and related upcoming programs showcase our commitment to using art as a springboard for thought-provoking discussions on the important issues of today. We are looking forward to encouraging the Northwestern University and Evanston communities to engage in conversation about art and social justice this spring and summer.