Fit Oshkosh has received two grants to fund an art show entitled “Color-Brave Photo Project: Black and Brown faces a new narrative,” which celebrates People of Color who live in Oshkosh. Fit is a diversity education non-profit organization that supports social justice advocacy “because race matters.”
The nonprofit organization received a major grant of $9,900 from the Wisconsin Humanities Council and a $7,500 Community Impact Grant from the Oshkosh Community Foundation to support the show. One of the organization’s goals is to is create a community where everyone, regardless of racial identity, feels welcome, can “fit” in, are valued, and are treated with respect and dignity.
The exhibition includes 20 framed photographic portraits with stories about each subject. The stories will be compiled in a book and videos will be produced for social media. It is estimated that the project will impact more than 50,000 people of all ages throughout the Fox Valley. It will travel to 10 locations, beginning with the Paine Art Center and Gardens from April 19 through April 25. There will be guided discussions called “Color-Brave Conversations” at each location.
“The goal of this project is to overcome false ideas about why People of Color live in Oshkosh,” said Tracey Robertson, executive director of Fit Oshkosh. “Some of these ideas are that People of Color come here exclusively from the ‘hoods’ of Milwaukee or Chicago, that they only moved here to be students or staff at the university, or that they have moved here ‘because of the prison’. The last example is the most damaging and the most alarming.”
Because the exhibit includes stories, viewers will learn about the complexities of People of Color in Oshkosh. According to Robertson, this greater awareness is critical as Oshkosh becomes more diverse. Greater knowledge about People of Color will help ensure continued educational and economic success for the community.
Aaron Sherer, Executive Director of the Paine, says, “Art and storytelling are among the best ways to help make the world a better place. By seeing the faces and hearing the stories of Black and Brown citizens, our community will be given a deeper understanding of the many People of Color living here and the many meaningful reasons why they call Oshkosh home.”
Fit Oshkosh will help schools schedule field trips to the exhibition and present photo books to Oshkosh fourth grade classrooms. Middle schools, high schools and university students will also be encouraged to explore the project.
The Oshkosh Area Community Foundation awards Community Impact Grants to non-profit organizations to develop projects that serve the community and meet emerging community needs. The Wisconsin Humanities Council awards grants that help communities thrive and give people opportunities to share personal stories and explore culture and history.