Local writer turned activist Kyle Young likely didn’t attend Reno’s Black Lives Matter peaceful protest in late May with the intent of creating art. But in the weeks since attending the event he’s continued to participate in community activism and conversation about the movement, which has led to “We Are The Sea,” a multi-media art installation at downtown Reno’s Sierra Arts Foundation gallery. The completed exhibit opens today.
Originally slated to include four parts, the finished exhibit now includes five parts, according to Young: a street-facing window collage, a series of original finer art works, a poem on a large banner, photography displayed on a television, and what Young calls “the ‘wave’ of voices.”
The name of the exhibit comes from a poem with the same title written by Young. It is prominently displayed as part of the exhibit, printed in stark white letters on a black background.
Young, who worked on the project with his wife and business partner Kaitlin, said they were inspired to create the project after seeing the “Black Lives Matter” painting on the street in Washington D.C. near the White House. Incorporating protest signs into the exhibit was a way to incorporate the voices of the community into a physical exhibit, they said in an artist statement.
“We wish to preserve these voices and capture this critical moment in human history,” they wrote in the statement. “We didn’t like the idea of people’s voices, captured in material form, to end up in our landfills. We wish for these materials to stimulate difficult conversations about police brutality and racial injustice in our community. Further, we hope this community-driven exhibit emboldens locals to publicly stand in solidarity with Black people, indigenous people and people of color in our community.”
Portions of the exhibit have been open to the public during production and assembly, and Young said the response so far has been positive.
“Those who made comments…seemed to find meaning in what they saw,” he said. “Many commented that it’s wonderful to see the community participate in a project like this.”
Contributing photographer Eric Marks, known for his “Reno Street Photography” Facebook page, agreed.
“It’s an impressive collection of artistic expression of social injustice and speaks to the systematic oppression toward people of color by law enforcement agencies.
Tuesday night was a private reception for community organizers, contributing artists and their friends and family. The exhibit is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.
For more information visit: https://sierraarts.org/event/we-are-the-sea-a-statement-of-black-lives-matter/
Editor’s Note: Photographers Eric Marks and Trevor Bexon, whose work is included in the exhibit, are photographic and reporting contributors to This Is Reno. Kyle Young previously wrote restaurant reviews for This Is Reno, and Kaitlin Young has previously assisted with This Is Reno’s social media content.