After Philando Castile was killed by a St. Anthony, Minnesota, police officer in July 2016, his mother, Valerie, began receiving countless pieces of art inspired by Castile’s life and unwarranted death. Valerie began to curate the gifted artworks on the walls of her home’s front room, which is dedicated to Castille. Soon, she realized that she wanted to share the healing nature of the artwork outside of her home, too, and made a cold call in 2017 to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, prompting the idea of an exhibition of the artworks.
Now, “Art and Healing: In the Moment,” an exhibition of 15 works from Minnesota artists made in reaction to Castile’s death, will open in the museum’s small Cargill Gallery this weekend. The exhibition ranges from a quilt that reads, “Black Lives Matter,” to a graphite drawing of Castile smiling, framed by the phrase, “Philando, We will always love you,” in careful script. In addition to the artworks, the museum has curated a series of events for healing and learning, and a sold-out talk with Bryan Stevenson, the founder of Alabama’s Legacy Museum, on slavery, lynching and racial segregation.
Following the conversations of race and authorship that stemmed from the 2017 Whitney Biennale and the Dana Schutz controversy, the exhibitions’ two white curators carefully considered their role in telling the community’s story. To better reflect the experience of those most affected by Castile’s death, the curators worked with a panel of community leaders and artists of color.
“Younger audiences are really demanding that their local museums stand up to contemporary relevance—and walk the walk,” Kaywin Feldman, director and president of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, told the Star Tribune. “To do that, you’ve got to do projects like this, that really reflect the community at large. All the good and the bad and the beauty and the trauma. All of it together.”