Kayla Magee, Indulgence, documentary photography, 11 x 14 inches

On Exhibit: ‘Healing History’ at the Cary Saurage Community Arts Center

The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge is bringing plenty of history with it as the nearly half-century-old organization moves into the new Cary Saurage Community Arts Center. But that doesn’t mean it lingers on the past. On the contrary, its newest exhibition in collaboration with the Arts Advisory Board, “Healing History,” pays intentional homage to the creators and consumers of art in Baton Rouge’s contemporary community—especially the Black community, whose influence stands out as particularly poignant during February’s Black History Month.

In line with the Arts Council’s motto embracing “IDEAS”—inclusion, diversity, equity, access and sustainability—the roughly 20 pieces of curated artwork on display inside the new Arts Center’s Shell Gallery consist of Capital Region artists’ photography, mixed-media collage, paintings and more, each one thematically linked to the subject of Black health and wellness. No need to show up with your advanced art degree, though. While viewing the pieces will certainly spark meditations on larger social themes, many of the works also find balance in celebrating everyday love, the latter of which can be experienced through one of guest curator Kristen Downing’s favorite photographs on display, an image of a man styling the hair of a young pregnant woman in a powerful moment of care.

“We want these stories and these artists to be viewed by everyone in the community, because the more we share these stories, the more the stories are given space to be told,” says chief programs officer Leea Russell.

Community, after all, is about collaborating, and doing so through art can help promote healing, all while supporting Black and BIPOC artists playing a vital role in Baton Rouge.

“Art, music, spoken word—these are equalizers,” says Russell. “They reveal commonalities across all groups, and this is what we wanted to focus on.”