“I’m sorry. We’ve kept our silence long enough.”
That is the last line of a poem by writer Ikran Hamza titled, “My apology letter (children of war).”
The poem is pasted in neat white letters across the street-facing windows at the Union for Contemporary Art in North Omaha. Inside the windows are two beautiful black and white photographs taken by local artist N8 DeVivo. The display can be viewed entirely from the sidewalk outside the building.
This display is the first in a series called “Uplift & Elevate” which began earlier this month. Each month will begin with new works from local black artists in the windows of the Union’s Wanda D. Ewing Gallery. Each month will end with a virtual concert streamed on Facebook Live. The first concert is Saturday, August 29 at 6 p.m. and will feature musicians J. Crum, Ria Gold and Kiwi of the band Bound.
It’s all part of the Union’s “Radical HeARTS” initiative. Though the building itself is closed, Union staff have been busy helping North Omaha to weather COVID-19. They’ve been creating virtual programs like “Undesign the Red Line,” a series of virtual tours and conversations about how systematic racism has affected housing in Omaha. They’ve been growing fresh produce in their garden for neighbors to pick for free, and they’ve been ensuring that Omaha still has access to art.
KIOS sat down with Union Program Coordinator Mary Lawson, who curated “Uplift & Elevate,” to discuss the Union’s busy summer and her hopes to encourage a moment of calm with the series.