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Fairfield University Art Museum exhibitions focus on racial and social justice

The museum's executive director told FOX61 she hopes the artwork will prompt students, staff and the state to have tough, but necessary conversations.

FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Fall exhibitions at the Fairfield University Art Museum are officially on display, uniting three artists' work to encourage conversation and change. 

Carey Weber, the museum's Executive Director, told FOX61 the exhibitions focus on racial justice, police reform, racism, and black history.

RELATED: 'Black and brown history has to be relevant' | Black History Trail opens in New London

"It's a very powerful exhibition; it's a really important exhibition," Weber said passionately.

Mae Weems: The usual Suspect is included in the exhibitions.

"Mae Weems is considered one of the most influential contemporary American artists, and we're so happy to have her work in our museum," Weber said.

Weems' art on display showcases recent photographs and videos that question stereotypes that associate Black bodies with criminality.

Roberto Lugo: New Ceramics is also among the three featured in the exhibitions. His work features hand painted ceramics that celebrates black and Latino figures.

Many of the art pieces in Lugo's exhibition incorporate gun parts from decommissioned handguns obtained in a Hartford gun buyback in 2018.

Robert Gerhardt: Mic Check is the third artist apart of the fall exhibition.

His photography project showcases images from Black Lives Matter protests from 2014-2021.

Weber said the work of all three artists compliment each other.

"It's more about uplifting, and looking at figures in black history and kind of celebrating figures in black history," Weber added.

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She said she hopes the artwork will prompt students, staff and the state to have tough but necessary conversations.

Mekaylia Ingram, a freshman at the university, has visited the exhibitions several times, and says she believes they are already sparking those conversations, while also giving a voice to students. 

"I feel seen as a student of color, seeing that this exhibit is here and seeing the number of people that come and look at the exhibit," Ingram said. "They even ask me questions about it, and how I feel about it. I definitely feel like my voice is being heard." 

Ingram said she has encouraged several of her friends to check out the art work, too. According to her, the images and art work are raw, and something everyone should see and learn from - not just for Black and brown students. 

"It's for everyone," Ingram added. "Everyone always comes out really touched by even someone came out in tears and I was like 'wow,' you know this is a good thing."

Weber said the exhibition is open to both students and the public for free. You can experience it in person or virtually

For an extensive list of virtual programming accompanying the Fall 2021 exhibitions, click here.

RELATED: In celebration of Connecticut's diversity, officials visit Hispanic-owned businesses in Windham

Raquel Harrington is the race and culture reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at rharrington@fox61.comFollow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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