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PEM offers FREE admission during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend to celebrate the opening of Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle

Released January 10, 2020

Live Music, Storytelling, Art Making and More
Saturday, January 18, through Monday, January 20


SALEM, MA – This January, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) opens Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle, the first museum exhibition to feature the celebrated series of paintings, Struggle: From the History of the American People (1954–56), by Jacob Lawrence. Painted during the Civil Rights era by one of the best-known black American artists of the 20th century, the series of 30 panels depicts pivotal moments in early American history with an emphasis on the contributions that black people, Native Americans, and women made in shaping our nation's founding and identity. The exhibition, organized by PEM and touring nationally through 2021, tackles a question central to Lawrence’s work: “What is the cost of democracy for all?“ PEM celebrates the exhibition opening with FREE museum admission all weekend long — Saturday, January 18, through Monday, January 20 — and a full roster of programming, including live music, storytelling, artmaking and more.


Saturday, January 18

11 am–noon | Artist Presentation | Bethany Collins: Singing America’s History
Contemporary artist Bethany Collins explores how words and meanings change over time. Like Jacob Lawrence, she uses research to identify language that can uncover the range of American voices and expressions. In this artist talk introduced by PEM Associate Curator Lydia Gordon, Collins will share her process of researching and creating America: A Hymnal, now on view in Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle. Register at pem.org/lawrence or at admissions desk.

11 am–3 pm | Drop-in Art Making | Create A Seat at the Table with RAW Art Works
“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” — Shirley Chisholm. Made from discarded and reclaimed materials, this traveling art display is a representation of those who have struggled to have their voices heard in American history. Envisioned by RAW’s Jason Cruz and realized by the art center’s teen students, A Seat at the Table is a multifaceted sculpture that serves as an inspiration to reflect and create. Using basic materials, create your own miniature chair sculpture that reflects on and responds to Chisholm’s powerful words and RAW’s belief that all people should be seen, heard and respected.

1–2 pm | In the Gallery | Community Listening Sessions
Meet and learn from local community leaders while you discover the work of Jacob Lawrence. On this special tour facilitated by a PEM staff member, you’ll be invited to engage in conversation with three community moderators stationed throughout the exhibition: Roberta O’Connor of Voices Against Injustice; Felicia Pierce of the North Shore Community Development Coalition; and Neil Sicard, a patrol officer for the Salem Police Department and Vice President of Salem United. Following the tour, mingle and continue the conversations over complimentary tea, coffee and cookies in the Main Atrium. Register at pem.org/lawrence or at admissions desk.

2–2:30 pm | Performance | New England Gospel Ensemble
Hear works from the repertoire of the New England Gospel Ensemble, a group of volunteer singers led by Artistic Director Renese King. Gospel music, a pillar of Americana, uplifts during times of struggle and celebrates during times of joy. The ensemble’s performance concludes with the 1907 version of My Country ‘Tis of Thee written by W.E.B Du Bois, one of 100 versions of the popular hymn featured in America: A Hymnal by Bethany Collins, on display in Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle. During the run of the exhibition, Collins’ artist book will have its pages turned to three hymn versions chosen by the three music ensembles performing at the museum this weekend. Learn more about the ensemble at negospel.com.


Sunday, January 19

11 am–3 pm | Drop-in Art Making | Create A Seat at the Table with RAW Art Works
See listing above.

1–4 pm | Drop-In Art Making | This is Salem in Dynamic Cubism
Jacob Lawrence’s “dynamic cubism” style of painting drew on the colors and textures of Harlem. Try your hand at this expressive technique, using oil pastels to play with basic shapes and perspective. Inspired by Lawrence’s illustrative images of Harlem, such as his 1943 painting This is Harlem, work from reference photos to create your own artwork that tells a story of Salem.

Timing TBC | Performance | Refugee Orchestra Project
Hear works from the repertoire of Refugee Orchestra Project. Conceived by conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya in the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis, the project aims to demonstrate the vitally important role that refugees from across the globe have played in our country’s culture and society. The performance concludes with the 1780 God Save the Thirteen States version of My Country ‘Tis of Thee, one of 100 versions of the popular hymn featured in America: A Hymnal by Bethany Collins, on display in Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle. During the run of the exhibition, Collins’ artist book will have its pages turned to the three hymn versions chosen by the three music ensembles performing at the museum this weekend. Learn more about the ensemble at refugeeorchestraproject.org.


Monday, January 20

10:30–11:30 am | Drop-in Family Story Time | Life Doesn’t Frighten Me
Just as Jacob Lawrence blended his paintings with words from letters, speeches, songs and other documents, the book featured during this special Holiday Monday PEM Pals program combines the language of beloved poet Maya Angelou with the expressive paintings of Haitian-American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Designed for toddlers and their caregivers, this story time program also includes movement, singing and art making.

11 am–3 pm | Drop-in Art Making | Create A Seat at the Table with RAW Art Works
See listing above.

11–11:30 am | Performance | Eureka Ensemble Women’s Chorus
Directed by Eureka Ensemble’s Assistant Conductor Ismael Sandoval, The Women’s Chorus connects women experiencing poverty and homelessness with the healing power of music. Hear traditional spirituals and folksongs from their repertoire, concluding with the 1795 Rights of Woman version of My Country ‘Tis of Thee, one of 100 versions of the popular hymn featured in America: A Hymnal by Bethany Collins, on display in Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle. During the run of the exhibition, Collins’ artist book will have its pages turned to three hymn versions chosen by the three music ensembles performing at the museum this weekend. Learn more about the ensemble at womenschorus.org.

11 am–3 pm | Drop-In Art Making | This is Salem in Dynamic Cubism
See listing above.

Programming made possible in part by the Lowell Institute.


MEDIA PARTNERS

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PUBLICITY IMAGES
High-resolution exhibition images and captions are available at the following link: bit.ly/PEMlawrence

SOCIAL MEDIA
Share your impressions of this experience using #AmericanStruggle

EXHIBITION CREDIT
Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov. Carolyn and Peter S. Lynch and The Lynch Foundation, Jennifer and Andrew Borggaard, James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes, Kate and Ford O'Neil, Henry and Callie Brauer and Burt Adelman and Lydia Rogers provided generous support. We also recognize the generosity of the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum.

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IMAGE CREDIT
Artist Jacob Lawrence with Panel 26 and Panel 27 from Struggle: From the History of the American People, 1954–56. © Robert W. Kelley/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images.

ABOUT THE PEABODY ESSEX MUSEUM
Over the last 20 years, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) has distinguished itself as one of the fastest-growing art museums in North America. Founded in 1799, it is also the country’s oldest continuously operating museum. At its heart is a mission to enrich and transform people's lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes and knowledge of themselves and the wider world. PEM celebrates outstanding artistic and cultural creativity through exhibitions, programming and special events that emphasize cross-cultural connections, integrate past and present and underscore the vital importance of creative expression. The museum's collection is among the finest of its kind boasting superlative works from around the globe and across time -- including American art and architecture, Asian export art, photography, maritime art and history, Native American, Oceanic, and African art, as well as one of the nation’s most important museum-based collections of rare books and manuscripts. PEM's campus affords a varied and unique visitor experience with hands-on creativity zones, interactive opportunities and performance spaces. Twenty-two noted historic structures grace PEM’s campus, including Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old Chinese house that is the only such example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States. HOURS: Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am-5 pm. Closed Mondays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. ADMISSION: Adults $20; seniors $18; students $12. Additional admission to Yin Yu Tang: $6 (plus museum admission). Members, youth 16 and under and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission and free admission to Yin Yu Tang. INFO: Call 866-745-1876 or visit pem.org.

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Whitney Van Dyke | Director of Communications | whitney_vandyke@pem.org | 978-542-1828