The week of February 14th, 2018 was tragic in this nation. As we are all aware, seventeen students were killed at a high school in Parkland, Florida by an expelled student from the same school. Here in D.C., a champion of the arts and of students, Peggy Cooper Cafritz died at 70.
Zenith Gallery opened a show on Valentine’s Day, when the high school massacre took place called Light Up Your HeArt. By the next Sunday, Peggy Cooper Cafritz had died. Students at Duke Ellington High School in D.C., which she almost single-handedly birthed, were singing her praises. By Monday (President’s Day) many of those same students were joining other children and teenagers at a lie-in on the wet ground across from the White House, begging for the adults to do something to prevent future school shootings.
At the Hirschhorn Museum on February 13, Krzstof Wojdisko and one of the Guerilla Girls spoke about artists’ activism. Later that night, the museum projected Krzstof’s projection of a gun and candle onto the building’s façade, with a plan to project it for the next three nights. The projection was cancelled on February 14 and 15, as it might be upsetting to the public after the Parkland massacre. One very brave artist, Robin Bell projected that same image in Mount Pleasant, D.C., the next night. We need to empower ourselves if we and our children are to survive.
Peggy Cooper Cafritz took on the challenge of reforming the D.C. school system, ultimately beginning a program that became Duke Ellington School for the Arts. This school serves as a preeminent training ground for young artists, musicians and performers in this nation, showcasing the talent of teens. Her personal art collection, focusing on African-American artists, featured work from the students she sponsored and nurtured.
Students took it upon themselves to organize, because no one else has yet successfully done so. With their prowess at social media, they are using it for a good purpose, self-preservation. As people like Peggy Cooper Cafritz are not here to organize this time, the students are taking over.
There will be a walkout from schools nationwide on April 14. On March 24rd, there will be huge rallies, including one in Washington, D.C.
Margery Goldberg has directed Zenith Gallery during the last forty years. Her courage and free speech has been directed toward causes that make our nation better, and against those who act and speak and legislate against the welfare and representation of its people. She has never been afraid to disturb the public for a good cause she supports with her gallery and artists. Her current show documents the artists represented during the early years, and new ones. On that horrendous day, Zenith’s show opened; Light Up Your heArt, not only bringing light into our lives when all seems dark, but also announces that we, as artists, whether we are making sculpture or remaking society, are effective and powerful.