Wednesday, September 10, 2008

UIS to take part in progressive reception for art exhibits commemorating 1908 race riot

Other venues will be the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and the Illinois State Museum

The University of Illinois at Springfield will be one of three host sites on Friday, September 19, for a progressive reception featuring art exhibits commemorating the Springfield Race Riot of 1908.

Other hosts for "Through the Eyes of Artists: Looking Back, Looking Forward" are the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and the Illinois State Museum. The event is free and open to the public and will feature artwork that captures the essence of the riot, its meaning, and what it can say to us today.

The reception begins at the Lincoln Presidential Library, Sixth and Jefferson Streets, from 5:30 to 7 p.m.; progresses to the State Museum, Spring and Edwards Streets, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.; and concludes at the UIS Visual Arts Gallery, located in room 201 of the Health and Sciences Building on the UIS campus, from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Mike Miller, UIS associate professor of Visual Arts, is one of the organizers of the event, as well as a participating artist in the show at the Illinois State Museum. "Visual art is a powerful tool for instigating meaningful dialogue about critical issues in contemporary society," said Miller. "'Through the Eyes of Artists' continues a promising trend in the Springfield arts community of institutions working together to advance a common theme."

The exhibit at UIS will be "Talking Stones" (left) a multi-media installation project by Native American visual and performance artist James Luna, which will remain on display in the Gallery through October 22.

Luna notes that his installation springs from the idea that, in the right time and place, organic substances such as stones can "transcend the world of utilitarian tools and become objects that hold a spiritual soul and speak of knowledge of the other world." A special place in "Talking Stones" will accommodate a brick from the riot that "cast a dark shadow on the history of Springfield."

"In 1908…," the display at the Lincoln Presidential Library, features a work by Brian Gillis, formerly an assistant professor of Visual Arts at UIS. In this exhibit, Gillis turns historical sources into artworks that coax visitors into becoming witnesses. Sources include maps, arrest records, court proceedings, death records, National Guard documents, and oral histories.

The State Museum will present "Across the Divide: Reconsidering the Other," an exhibit featuring works in a variety of media by 16 leading contemporary artists that look back and forward and deal with race, ethnicity, religion, and other geo-political issues.

For more information on "Through the Eyes of Artists" call 217/558-8934 or go to

UIS Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. For further information on "Talking Stones," go to or contact the gallery by phone at 217/206-6506 or by e-mail at