Pulitzer Prize-winning author Salamishah Tillet, who is a Henry Rutgers Professor at the School of Arts & Sciences-Newark (SASN), will co-curate an exhibition of monumental-scale artworks called Pulling Together, created by six artists for Beyond Granite, a commemorative program launching on the National Mall and around Washington, D.C. in 2023.
The Beyond Granite pilot initiative will create a space to commemorate history, experiences, and stories not currently represented in the commemorative landscape in the Nation’s Capital.
Tillet, executive director of Express Newark, a socially engaged center for art and design at Rutgers-Newark, is working with Paul Farber of Monument Lab a nonprofit public art and history studio based in Philadelphia that explores the past, present and future of monuments.
The exhibition is inspired by the 1939 Easter Sunday performance of renowned Black opera singer Marian Anderson on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, as a result of her being barred from nearby Constitution Hall due to segregation in the capital. Her performance remains monumental in public memory with educator and civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune remarking at the time that the performance “told a story of hope for tomorrow–a story of triumph–a story of pulling together, a story of splendor and real democracy.”
Pulling Together, co-curated by Tillet and Farber, will feature works from leading contemporary artists that respond to a central curatorial question: "What stories remain untold on the National Mall?” The invited artists are Derrick Adams, Tiffany Chung, Ashon Crawley, vanessa german, Paul Ramirez Jonas, and Wendy Red Star.
“These artists represent a set of vibrant and essential lived experiences,” said Tillet, a professor of Africana Studies in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers-Newark. The works will bring “vital new meaning to our nation’s most iconic commemorative landscape" she continued.
"The National Mall is a canvas that offers a constant, but evolving, landscape upon which we tell the American story,” said Catherine Townsend President & CEO of the Trust for the National Mall. "The Trust is honored to help bring Beyond Granite and these important stories to life on the National Mall.’’
More information about the artists and the initiative are at www.beyondgranite.org.