OPEN CALL – Race and Revolution: Home/Land

Opening: February 8, 2020

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 11:59PM on Saturday, December 21, 2019

Curator: Katie Fuller

Race and Revolution: Home/Land, the fourth art exhibition in a series that confronts historical patterns of systemic racism in the United States, is putting out an open call to emerging artists of all media whose work relates to and engages in conversation with the themes related to the enduring impact of government-sanctioned family separation, bounty hunting, and detention for border crossing. For the open call, we would like to view completed works that address this topic and/or proposals for work related to the topic.

Home/Land will look at the influence of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 on Lewis Latimer’s family, focusing on the tactics used to detain, deport, and re-enslave “runaways” with current practices used by Immigration Customs Enforcement to control the influx of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. The exhibition will pair true stories of those who escaped or attempted to escape slavery in the years surrounding the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 with current experiences of families attempting to migrate to the United States with the hope of finding a home in the land of the free.

Eight to ten artists will be given access to primary source documents from the past to create works that show a connection between then and now. Basing their art pieces on families’ migration journeys and their encounters with ICE brings the pain of the past into the present. Excerpts from historical documents: runaway slave ads, letters, journal entries, will be posted on the wall next to the art piece. Displayed together, the documents and the artworks will ask viewers what, if anything, has changed regarding how this country treats humans labeled as “illegal”.


Projects in all media are welcome (though see “exhibit specifications” section below for specific requirements). We are also open to temporary indoor or outdoor event proposals that engage with this theme,  from both artists and community organizations. Artists are especially encouraged to propose community workshops that complement artwork on view in the gallery (as opposed to stand-alone events).

TO SUBMIT: Please email ONE PDF file with all requested information listed below including images/videos or links to images/videos to under the title “Home/Land Submission.”

-Brief description (approx. 1 paragraph or 500 words) of proposed project–please address how it engages the exhibition theme!

-Up to 10 images/videos of the proposed project and/or related work, or send links to images/videos online. Sketches of proposed new work are ok. Please attach a work sample script explaining the content of the work samples, or link to captions online. NOTE: if you are proposing a public program/performance, please share info on any related programs/events you have previously produced.

-Funding request (if any): The Lewis Latimer House Museum is dedicated to offering at minimum a $150 honorarium for all participating artists. Additional funds may be available, especially to cover materials/transport costs for new and site-specific work.

-Attach or link to artist resume or bio

-Please title the email subject line with “Home/Land Submission”

** Artists/organizations are highly encouraged to visit the Lewis Latimer House Museum exhibition space (see below) and to contact the curator in advance to discuss ideas or to arrange a studio visit. As an exhibition space, the house is unique. The artwork will be displayed in the first-floor parlor rooms, the room currently used for public programs and workshops, and the Museum garden. There are existing artifacts and relics in some of the artwork display areas, so it is strongly suggested that you visit the space prior to submitting a proposal.

About Lewis Latimer and Lewis Latimer House Museum

About the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

George Latimer, father of Lewis, escaped from his enslavers in Virginia and settled in Massachusetts. Only two years after his son was born, the United States passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 as part of the Missouri Compromise, making it one’s civic duty to report any man, woman, or child suspected of escaping slavery in the South and settling in the North. Up until the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, Massachusetts had been an abolitionists’ enclave. After the Fugitive Slave Act passed any person who escaped became vulnerable to bounty hunters and vigilant neighbors. Rewards often inspired the capture of free black men, women, and children, who might bare a resemblance to an enslaved person who had escaped. In 1857 Chief Justice Robert Taney decided in Scott V. Sanfordthat enslaved people could not sue for their freedom and that Congress did not have the power to keep slavery out of the Western Territories. This decision, considered one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in United States history, made slave catching a free for all.

Though no one knows exactly what happened to George Latimer, the lack of regulation regarding “fugitive” slaves may have made him especially fearful for the safety of his family. What would his status as a former slave mean to ruthless slave catchers? What we do know is that George disappeared, leaving behind his wife and children.

Thematic Questions

-What does “home” mean?

-What is the relationship between one’s home and one’s homeland?

-Do you think a home and a homeland is a human right?

-How can we, as informed people, condemn how enslaved people seeking freedom were treated as a result of the Fugitive Slave Act, yet continue to dehumanize people who are seeking better lives for their families?

DEADLINE: 11:59PM on Saturday, December 21st 2019