Gallery Talk – Higher Ground: Honoring the Story of Washington Park Cemetery

  • Friday, April 7, 2017 • 6:00 pm
  • Sheldon Art Galleries, 3648 Washington Blvd

Gallery Talk: Friday, April 7, 2017, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

Washington Park Cemetery was once the largest African-American cemetery in the St. Louis region. But in the 1950s, Interstate 70 cleaved Washington Park in two. Subsequent development reduced the acreage by half. Today, despite the work of dedicated volunteers, the once-careful landscaping and neat rows of graves have fallen into disrepair.

“What happened to Washington Park is representative of issues that are still happening in St. Louis and around the country,” said senior lecturer Jennifer Colten, who began photographing the cemetery in 1991. She conceived the exhibition Higher Ground: Honoring Washington Park Cemetery, Its People and Place, which reveals the story of the complicated tangle of social injustice, racial politics, and neglect that the cemetery has suffered in the nearly 100 years of its existence. The exhibition includes 50 photographs by Colten, video oral histories by associate professor Denise Ward-Brown, historical land documentation, and an art installation by Dail Chambers. Essays by senior lecturer Michael Allen and Azzurra Cox contribute to provide an overview of the history and issues surrounding the cemetery.

Featuring project artists Denise Ward-Brown, Jennifer Colten and Dail Chambers. Admission free, but reservations are required. Contact Paula Lincoln at or 314-533-9900.

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