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In the Spirt of Martin
In the Spirit of Martin was the first major museum exhibition to use the visual arts to explore the inspiring life and enduring legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil rights leader, statesman, minister, and martyr, Martin Luther King is one of the most compelling figures in American history.
An overview of the Civil Rights movement set the stage for the exhibition's impressive range of artistic offerings. In the Spirit of Martin included paintings, works on paper, prints, sculpture, and mixed-media pieces by such artists as Elizabeth Catlett, Thornton Dial, L'Merchie Frazier, Jacob Lawrence, May Stevens, Charles White, and John Wilson. Some of the artworks cast Dr. King as a martyr and comment on violence in American society. These images convey the tremendous sense of outrage and loss caused by Dr. King's death. Others examine his status as an icon of popular culture or a source of African American pride.
Through its presentation of work in the visual arts, the exhibition demonstrates the extraordinary influence of Dr. King and speaks to the power of art to shape our collective national memory. A wide range of visual artists responded to Dr. King's life and grappled with his message. In the Spirit of Martin featured works by over one hundred prominent, emerging, and self-taught artists, selected by curators Gretchen Sullivan Sorin, Helen M. Shannon, and Leslie King Hammond in cooperation with an impressive committee of scholars.