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story.lead_photo.caption Demonstrators protest the death of George Floyd Saturday, May 30, 2020, at the Downtown Post Office in Texarkana. Staff photo by Greg Bischof

TEXARKANA, Texas — The Regional Arts Center downtown will host a pop up exhibit related to local peaceful protests that were motivated by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.

The Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council plans to open the exhibit June 25 and invites local citizens with art and artifacts related to the local protests to submit them to be included. This could be photographs, signs, art and the like.

Dr. Teretha Harper of TRAHC's African American Committee says the idea sprang from both the protests in recent weeks and another peaceful protest a few years ago over the killing of Trayvon Martin. Peaceful protesting is the theme.

"Here we are in a bi-state (city), Arkansas and Texas, and I thought that this is the second time in this bi-state city we've had peaceful marches," Harper said. "That's how the whole idea started."

The exhibit will include art and artifacts from both protests. The idea is to rapidly create an exhibit with whatever is on hand to reflect this theme.

"It is very quick and you collect whatever artifacts you have," Harper said.

Kay Thomas, TRAHC's national teaching artist and arts integration consultant, said a pop up show like this has a number of features. She's asking for signs, handouts, items posted on telephone poles — "all of those different kinds of things; we're going to have a way to show them."

"It's often times an emotional, artistic response to something that has happened," Thomas said about pop up exhibits. Sometimes these shows are formal, and at others they're more democratic with the public included.

The installation will include a formal framework and more informal elements, Thomas said. Videos, still shots and more are welcome. She'd like to curate it as if it's a journey, with exhibit visitors entering one way and exiting another way. All types of art will be included.

"I'm really not going to know until I get it all," Thomas said.

The exhibit will include a slide show with photos of the marches, Harper said. "That's one of the big features," she said. They're also working with Texarkana College students on art related to the themes of dignity, peace, courage, freedom and justice.

"The last section is going to be what we call reflections. It will be a quiet place to look at quotations by famous people, some quotations of people here in Texarkana, some artwork that we just recently found. And people post what they are thinking," Harper said.

Thomas puts it this way: "Dr. Harper is going to pose questions that are constructive questions for the community that will get a conversation going."

Because it's evolving, how the exhibit appears in its final form might change.

Why has Texarkana welcomed these peaceful protests? Harper believes local protesters are putting non-violent ideals into action.

"I think what happened is that for whatever reason — I don't know why — Texarkana has picked up on the principle of non-violent resistance that was really started by Gandhi and picked up by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," Harper said. "That seems to be the principle that people have used in Texarkana for the peaceful protest marches. So that's an underlying theme for this exhibit."

Thomas said because of the coronavirus pandemic they now have access to the Regional Arts Center's secure gallery, having cancelled other exhibits. Hence, there's room for this pop up show, which is meant to inspire a positive experience.

"It's a constructive conversation the positivity of it that she (Dr. Harper) wants a positive evolution out of all this. I'm really proud that we've had these different protests and they've been very peaceful," Thomas said. It's exciting and historic, she believes.

"I just think it's going to be really great," Thomas said.

(If anyone would like to submit art, artifacts or other things to the exhibit, contact Kay Thomas at 903-792-8681 or Dr. Teretha Harper at 870-773-7230. They'll receive work this coming Thursday through Saturday.)

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