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Second ‘Voices of Resilience’ Installation to Open Sept. 18 at Center Church Gallery

SOUTH HADLEY — With a team of collaborators and scholars, the second installation of “Voices of Resilience: The Intersection of Women on the Move” will be presented by South Hadley’s Center Church from Sept. 18 to Oct. 15. The opening event will be held Sunday, Sept. 18 at 2 p.m.

Taking an inclusive look at local and national women’s history while exploring the pursuit of a more complete narrative of American history, the exhibition celebrates the intersecting lives of women — and women of color — in Massachusetts and beyond who changed the course of history.

The exhibit launched at the Springfield Museums during the pandemic. The new installation will open at Center Church and reflect on local history and political shifts in our culture. The Rev. Lori Souder invites everyone to take advantage of this unique opportunity. “We welcome the community to view this exhibit and be inspired to learn more about ‘hidden figures’ in our communities and beyond.”

The exhibit is free and open to the public Saturdays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sundays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Wednesdays 4 to 7 p.m. Group visits at other times are available by appointment. Exhibit sponsors include E Ink Corp., Mount Holyoke College, PeoplesBank, Thomson Financial Management, Odyssey Bookshop, and Sankofa Gumbo Inc.; the South Hadley Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, also provided a grant. Community collaborators for the exhibit include Bay Path University, Springfield Museums, On the Move Forum, Human Service Forum, Arise for Social Justice, the African American Female Professors Assoc., and others.

The guiding inspiration for the exhibit will be “Highest Star,” a song by singer and presidential honoree Melba Moore, which notes that “everybody needs a hero to set their spirits free.” Guest curator Janine Fondon, assistant professor and chair of Undergraduate Communication at Bay Path, added that “we raise the voices of women — past and present — by acknowledging their critical narrative along history’s timeline. This year we will learn more about the Combahee River Collective and its historic 1977 statement raising the voice of Black women with intention during an era of defining feminism.”

“Voices of Resilience” showcases a range of voices from early Black feminists such as Barbara Smith to longtime columnist Barbara Bernard. The exhibit celebrates both spiritual and lay leaders, artists, musicians, and educators such as Amy Hughes, formerly of the MacDuffie School, as well as Lucie Lewis, who traces her story to the Salem witch trials. Many voices from Springfield, South Hadley, Amherst, and beyond are featured. The upcoming book It’s Our Movement Now will also be highlighted. The book was edited by Laura Lovett from the University of Pittsburgh and Rachel Jessica Daniel and Kelly Giles from the University of Massachusetts, with a chapter by Fondon.

Exhibition scholar Demetria Shabazz noted that the exhibit presents an opportunity to learn how women overcame challenges and created enduring legacies. “It is important to reflect on how African-American women and women in general have stepped up to shape our local and national civic and political cultures over time.”

Lewis, exhibition scholar and researcher, added that “remembering the shoulders on which we stand and discovering the spirit that guided their journey emboldens each of us to embrace the work that remains yet to be done.”

To learn more about the exhibit, visit centerchurchsouthhadley.org/voices. For questions or to schedule a tour, call (413) 532-2262 or email [email protected].

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