The Great Barrington Project is an ongoing community art and discussion event rooted in the ideas and writings of Great Barrington native son W.E.B. Du Bois. The creator is Delano Burrowes, a writer, artist and curator and also a Great Barrington native son. The first event will, appropriately enough, be in the namesake Berkshires town.
Since the summer of 2020, this country has finally been acknowledging how entrenched in our society is the idea that Blackness is seen as a problem, and the potential consequences of that. We are all, regardless of background, subject to the same media and social influences that perpetuate this narrative. It’s crucial that we don’t look at racism and intolerance as an “over there” issue, but one that is present in our own communities, bodies and minds. How we stop this centuries old way of thinking and seeing is through awareness and sometimes uncomfortable honesty.
Throughout the week, there will be an interactive public art experience where anyone walking by is invited to sit in a chair across from a seated Black person and look in each other's eyes for 10 minutes. The hope is that in those 10 minutes, the viewer will be reminded that we all create many narratives about strangers every day, but how often do we stop, pause and truly see individuals instead of stereotypes? In a world in which smartphone disconnection is constant, 10 minutes of simple silent human connection is rare.
Those who identify as Black will also be invited to write answers to the questions
1) How does the world see me?
2) How do I see myself?
At the end of the week there will be a free public event around these ideas co-facilitated with Gwendolyn Van Sant, the CEO and co-founder of Multicultural Bridge and well known Guest speakers will discuss the topic and how it relates to Great Barrington and the world today and we will open up the microphone for local people to share for one minute each. There will also be art, music and an area for people to write how they are seen by others and how they see themselves.
The Great Barrington Project is ongoing and will travel to many communities around the country with the hopes that it can be a model for others and continue to branch out into new and unexpected directions. More information can be found on the newly launched blog, www.thegreatbarringtonproject.squarespace.com. The blog will document the creative process and also display photographs and answers to the questions. It’s also where volunteers can sign up.
The goal of The Great Barrington Project isn’t that people walk away feeling guilt or shame. It’s that we can all leave with hope that we’re doing difficult but necessary work to break down old ways of seeing to create new ones.
If you’d like to donate to The Great Barrington Project, the GoFundMe link is Here