Community art project facilitates discussion on race


Evan Frank

Decorated stones lay scattered at the rock garden exhibit next to MOD Pizza. The event was held to create a space for conversations on race mediated through art.

In wake of the recent events surrounding the Black Lives Matter Movement, Shorewood Moving Forward members Pam Miller, Sharon Grinker, Elly Pick and Kathleen McKeown, organized rock garden installations called the Shorewood Stones Memorial. The two installations are located at the Cornerstone Building in the garden space between what was formerly Wine Thief and Bonobos Restaurant and between Mod Pizza and the Metro Market parking structure. 

Miller is the secretary on the Board of Shorewood Moving Forward, an action group working to support equity for students and the community of Shorewood. Within the committee, the four women decided to form a subsection focused on using art as a medium of communication.

“[We] came together from the social committee and made this little art committee,” said Miller.

The group met twice in August at Atwater Park to decorate stones while socially distancing. Anyone was welcome to sit and participate in the conversations. People who happened to be passing by stopped as well to decorate stones and talk. The installations were officially established in late August. 

“We had not as an organization done anything, taken any steps to officially lead a protest,” Miller said. “But we felt like this was a way that we could participate, and a community project that brought people together and honored the men and women whose lives have been taken.”

At the heart of the project was the goal to remember the people that have been lost.

“The idea was to honor Black Lives Matter,” Miller said. “It really was meant in all ways to be heartfelt, thoughtful and memorializing lives that were taken unnecessarily by police violence.”

The installations feature rocks decorated with names of victims of police violence and slogans and words that relate to the Black Lives Matter Movement. Names include Elijah McClain, Tamir Rice, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Trayvon Martin, to list a few. There are also signs with words and definitions that are intended to educate about terms such as equality, white privilege and microaggressions.  

Other rocks read: “protect and cherish Black lives,” “white silence is violence #BLM,” “matter is the minimum,” and “no justice no peace.”

Lizza Korolev, junior, happened to discover the installation on accident liked its presentation.

“I thought that [the memorial] was really touching,” Korolev said. “You see a lot of signs or messages, but I thought that the stone memorial just made it have a more warm and homey kind of feel.” 

To her, the fact that small pieces came together to make a whole added another level of power to the exhibit. 

“Everybody can make their own little stone… You can look at each one and they all are related. Then, you get each little message, but then you also get the big picture and the big message,” Korolev said. 

Throughout the course of many movements, art has been used as a driving force for social change. 

“Art is such an inspirational and motivational way that people can spread messages because there are so many ways you can express emotion through art,” Korolev said.

“Through art we can come together, and I think through art we can heal,” Miller said. 

Through art we can come together, and I think through art we can heal.”

— Pam Miller, Shorewood Moving Forward secretary

“I think art is a way to talk about difficult things and a lot of times, artists can shed a little light, make us think about things,” Grinker said. 

In the future, the group hopes that this conversation will continue and that young people will continue to rise to the occasion within our community. 

“The more we talk about things, bring them into the light, to make Shorewood the way we want it to be,” Grinker said. “I’m just excited that we can encourage conversation and growing awareness.”