Museum exhibits Saginaw’s identity

"Who We Are" Exhibit
By Jack Rechsteiner, managing editor

The Saginaw Art Museum is a nationally accredited institution that provides educational programs, featured exhibitions, a permanent collection of art and community outreach. With its latest special exhibition, the Saginaw Art Museum aims to highlight the people who give Saginaw the thriving community that it has.

The museum stayed open late for the opening of its most recent exhibition, “Who We Are.” The exhibition is a diverse collection of photos of those who call Saginaw home that aims to tell the story of Saginaw’s shared community. The exhibition began as the wish to do a Saginaw photography project and draws upon the experiences of the staff of the Saginaw Art Museum, such as a similar project that Lauren Grotkowski, the outreach manager of the museum, did while working at the Galicia Jewish Museum in Kraków, Poland.

“We wanted to focus on the the concept of community identity and explore the identity of Saginaw by showcasing photos of different community members. We went out to community events in the area and asked people who were participating if they would want to be a part of our portrait project,” says Grotkowski.

“Who We Are” ties in with the other special exhibition at the Saginaw Art Museum, “Portraits of Opposition” by Jac Lahav. This exhibit featured 51 works by Lahav that look into the nature of identity and biography. Many of Lahav’s works are portraits that serve to question basic assumptions of historical memory and collective identity, such as George Washington in a jean jacket or a portrait of Harriet Tubman in an Andy Warhol-esque style.

“My hope is that this exhibition will provide a space to spark dialogs about community, societal growth and difference,” says Sarah Trew, former curator for the Saginaw Art Museum.

The photostory that “Who We Are” showcases hopes to build on the ideas in Lahav’s exhibition by highlighting the importance of the individual and showcasing Saginaw’s shared history. The photos were joined together around words that the museum felt captured the essence of Saginaw, such as “culture,” “community,” “pride,” “roots” and “opportunity,” to list a few.

“Saginaw is my home. I take a lot of pride in this community and I started getting emotional and tearing up when we started putting this exhibit up because I love this community so much. Saginaw is alive because of its community and the people who are working so hard to make a difference,” says Grotkowski.

Both “Who We Are” and “Portraits of Opposition” will be on display at the Saginaw Art Museum until June 9. For more information about the exhibits or other upcoming events, you can find them online at www.saginawartmuseum.org or on Facebook at Saginaw Art Museum.

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