The Anderson Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Our Town: Reclaiming the Narrative curated by Lenore Metrick-Chen, professor of art and cultural history, and students in the professor’s Black Americans and Photography course. The exhibit is on view Friday, Nov. 9, 2018 through Friday, Feb. 1, 2019.

An opening reception is scheduled from 5­–7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9, in the Anderson Gallery, located in Drake’s Harmon Fine Arts Center, 2505 Carpenter Ave. The reception and the exhibition are free and open to the public. In addition, a talk featuring Joshua Barr, director of the City of Des Moines’ Department for Human and Civil Rights, will take place on Friday, Nov. 16, at 6 p.m. in the Turner Jazz Center, 1310 25th Street.

“The exhibit centers on the idea of individual agency—our ability to choose our actions or non-actions—and how it can lead to social change,” says Professor Metrick-Chen. “It celebrates the diverse works of people in Des Moines’ black communities whose individual choices and agency has led to civic engagement and social change for all citizens.”

Our Town offers a sampling of acts of agency and everyday bravery in Des Moines. The exhibition features short video interviews of local advocates including Dwana Bradley, editor in chief of The Urban Experience magazine, Laural Clinton, community and racial justice activist, and Elain Estes, former head of the Des Moines Public Library.

Several Drake students are also featured in the interviews, including Ayinde Ashford, third-year student at Drake Law School, and Maleigha Williams and Bailey Mosely, senior students at Drake and members of the Coalition of Black Students. In addition, the exhibition will examine the work of Joeanne Cheatom and Katherine Bryson, activists from the 1960s.

In tandem, with the celebration of the 50-year history of breakfast clubs for children in Des Moines initiated by the Black Panther’s Des Moines chapter and continued by Children and Family Urban Movement, the exhibition will feature a timeline examining the history of breakfast clubs and their impact in the community. The timeline will feature comments by present and former participants in the breakfast club, including Iowa state representative and former lieutenant of the Des Moines chapter of the Black Panther Party, Ako Abdul-Samad.

The exhibition also houses a smaller exhibition which contains eight pairs of artworks.

“These image pairings address the reclamation of one’s agency,” says Professor Metrick-Chen. “They often turn images emblematic of oppression on their head.”

About the Anderson Gallery

The Anderson Gallery was established in 1996 as a dedicated space for the exploration of contemporary art and design. Additionally, the gallery hosts curated exhibitions of historically significant work, as well as annual showcases of student work from the Department of Art and Design. A not-for-profit branch of the Department of Arts and Sciences at Drake University, the gallery occupies a versatile 1800 sq. ft. space on the first floor of the Harmon Fine Arts Center.

The Anderson Gallery is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Friday through Sunday, 12­–4 p.m. and extended hours on Thursdays from 12­–8 p.m. The gallery is closed on Mondays and during University holidays. The Gallery is also open by appointment. For more information, contact 515-271-1994, email or visit