Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site is dreaming big, big enough to help cover a Saturn V rocket with over 250 pieces of local, national and even international artwork.
From May 1 to June 30 the park will host “Expressions of Freedom and Equality,” an exhibit created in partnership with artists representing The Dream Rocket Project. The exhibit will feature artwork created by Kansas students during a series of artist workshops.
Visitors can view the free exhibit from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (except on May 27 when the park will be closed for Memorial Day). On May 3 and June 7 the exhibit will be open from 5:30 to 8:30 pm during Topeka’s monthly First Friday Artwalk. Students, teachers, and artists will be on hand on Friday, May 3 to discuss their artwork at a reception with opening remarks at 5:45 pm.
The Dream Rocket Project, which was launched in 2009, is collecting more than 8,000 pieces of artwork that in 2014 will be stitched together to wrap a 363-foot Saturn V Moon Rocket replica at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Prior to the wrapping of the Saturn V, all submissions are being displayed in libraries, schools, museums, and other community locations.
Artwork in the exhibit will explore the theme of “Expressions of Freedom and Equality.” Sub-themes include community, education, peace, empathy, and integrity. Young people in Boys and Girls Clubs in Topeka, Lawrence, and Kansas City created many of the artworks in 2012 after week-long summer camps under the guidance of Lawrence-based quilt artist Marla Jackson. Students created fabric art pieces after visiting historic sites in eastern Kansas and western Missouri that are part of Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area. Artist Jennifer Marsh worked with other students at area high schools to create the exhibit’s larger works. In addition to works by Kansas students, submissions arrived from 23 states and nine countries, representing a total of 101 schools, 85 groups, 27 individuals, and 17 Girl Scout troops.
“Through this exhibit, our park visitors will see the many ways that students have expressed their understanding of what freedom and equality means to them,” said Park Superintendent Dave Smith. “By exposing students to our country’s struggle for civil rights, we hope to inspire them to make a difference.”
Jennifer Marsh founded The Dream Rocket Project in response to the growing need within her community for supplemental arts education for public schools, community arts, and perhaps most importantly, an outlet for individuals around the world to find common ground. Marsh currently resides as a fellow of the Donald B. and Twila Catron Sr. Professorship of Art at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. More information about The Dream Rocket Project is available online at www.thedreamrocket.com.