A partnership formed to help honor the life of Frederick Douglass

Feb 21, 2019

One of the statues of Frederick Douglass, by artist Olivia Kim, that have been placed around Rochester
Credit Tianna Manon/WXXI News

There’s a new partnership in an effort to bring a strong, multi-media focus on the life of Frederick Douglass. The famed abolitionist, who spent years in Rochester and published his anti-slavery newspaper The North Star here, has been honored over the last year, to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth.

Now, the Memorial Art Gallery, the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commemoration Committee and St. John Fisher College are working together to bring even more attention to Douglass’s life and what he stood for.

There are now a dozen statues honoring Douglass (created by artist Olivia Kim) around town as part of the past year’s efforts, and another one will be displayed at the Memorial Art Gallery.

Chris Christopher is a project manager for the Re-Energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass Committee. She says this partnership points to the ongoing relevancy of what Douglass had to say.

“Over the past year, what the project we’ve been involved with really has shown, is how much inspiration is still available to be drawn by Douglass. 200 years later, we’re still talking about the man, we’re still praising the man, we are still looking to him for answers to questions that vex us in this day and age.”

A statue of Frederick Douglass will be displayed at the MAG along with the exhibition, “Lessons of the Hour—Frederick Douglass,” which features a 10-screen film installation by artist Isaac Julien inspired by episodes in the life of Douglass. Both the monument and the exhibition will be on view at the gallery from March 3 to May 12.

Frederick Douglass is a towering figure in our nation’s history and MAG is grateful to have the opportunity to help steward his legacy,” said MAG Director Jonathan Binstock. “For the last 2-1/2 years MAG has been working with artist Isaac Julien on a major media-art commission, a meditation on the life, words, and actions of Douglass.”

Also, the Memorial Art Gallery, St. John Fisher College, and the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commemoration Committee will host a community conversation regarding Frederick Douglass and his legacy, public art, and how the ideas Douglass expressed in his life’s work resonate in today’s world. The public conversation will take place at MAG on Wednesday April 17 at 7:00 pm.