Springfield Museum of Art series features local speaker discussing community building

The Springfield Museum of Art will host its third Community Conversations speaker series at 2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 8, featuring a local speaker, Dr. Dawayne Kirkman, who serves as the Vice President of Student Affairs at Clark State College.

The speaker series compliments the exhibition of Black Life as Subject Matter II
This week’s Community Conversation: Community Building will also feature as a speaker Dwayne Daniel, who is an artist in in the exhibition and an assistant professor of fine and performing arts at Central State University.

Kirkman says he aspires to live by the motto: “The teacher should be the leading learner.”

“As I have lived my life, I continue to learn more and more about what it means to live and lead with equity and inclusion at the forefront,” he says. “I feel I learned a lot by visiting this exhibition.

This is exhibition is important and powerful and right here in Springfield, Ohio. This is truly a wonderful opportunity to see this exhibit ... as well as have a community conversation.”

Kirkman, a native of rural Kentucky, was the first male in his family to graduate from high school and the first person in his family to attend and graduate from college.

“After I graduated from high school, I was accepted to, attended, and graduated from Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South,” says Kirkman. “Additional experiences have helped shape my perspective, specifically being able to travel. Growing up in a town without even a stoplight, I feel that I have been fortunate to travel as well as build fellowship with people of many different cultures, ethnicities, and races. I have been forever changed by these experiences.”

Kirkman says he is excited to be a part of this community conversation, and the goal is to bring Springfield together for bold conversation about race and equity.

“An important mentor of mine always leads with this sentiment: ‘We Belong to Each Other!’” he says. “I wholeheartedly believe that be true, and I try to live my life with that spirit - now more than ever as need to move forward together in 2022.”

Amy Korpieski, education coordinator at the Springfield Museum of Art, says the museum offers a neutral territory where people can be open to different experiences that might not be their own.

“Springfield is growing and changing and becoming much more vibrant. The museum is thrilled to be a part of that,” she says. “Sometimes difficult conversations are so much easier through artwork; we thought that would be a beautiful model for community building.”

Korpieski says Kirkman representing Clark State where so many community members have connections, and Daniel representing Central State University, were a natural fit to share their stories and inspire conversation.

“Central State is super embedded in the community and is always making progressive steps in helping their students,” she says.

The final Community Conversations: Social Identities and Systems will be at 2 p.m., Saturday, February 12. The conversation will be moderated by Chelsea Craig, artist in the exhibition, and Karlos Marshall, founder and president of The Conscious Connect in Springfield.

The conversations are guided by questions from Talking About Race, an online resource from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Museum staff moderate and invite voices from all participants while keeping the conversation focused on a productive, never harmful, exchange of ideas and experiences.

The events take place in the main gallery, amidst the artwork and in an informal setting. The conversation will also be streamed and recorded. Anticipated length is 45 to 60 minutes for the conversation with time afterwards for browsing and chatting in the gallery. 

Free and open to the public, these events will be held both online and in person at the museum located at 107 Cliff Park Road.

Registration for the online streaming is available at through Zoom here.

To learn more about the Talking About Race resource, click here.
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Read more articles by Darci Jordan.