TESTIFY: Americana from Slavery to Today, an exhibit of art and artifacts from The Diane and Alan Page Collection, has a photo gallery featured at the St. Cloud Public Library.
Building on the success of the original exhibit in 2018, former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice and NFL Hall of Famer Alan Page and his family, with collection director Georgi Page-Smith, are again presenting their exhibit in Minnesota with renewed calls to action.
Selections from the family’s extraordinary collection will be on display at the Cargill Gallery at Minneapolis Central Library accompanied by weekly TESTIFY Tuesday workshops and mainstage programming. Concurrently, the Great River Regional Library (GRRL) is hosting a large format photo display of selections from the exhibit, featuring audio narration. The series of high-resolution photographs by photographer Josh Grubbs is also available to view online.
Executive Director Karen Pundsack and Patron Services Specialist Beth Ringsmuth Stolpman have worked with collection director Georgi Page-Smith to bring the smaller travelling version of the TESTIFY Exhibit to GRRL and other library systems in Minnesota, beginning with the St. Cloud Public Library. It will be on display from February 1st through the end of March, after which the hope is to send groupings of the photo displays to other GRRL locations.
"GRRL was happy to partner with Georgi Page-Smith on this project,” shared Beth Ringsmuth Stolpman. “Our goal is to extend access to the TESTIFY exhibit. The idea for this photo exhibit extension began at the Minnesota Library Association conference in October 2022, where retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page was a keynote speaker. The Page family hoped to expand the reach of TESTIFY by sharing it with libraries across Minnesota. We worked to bring the photographs of the exhibit in a format that will be accessible for library patrons statewide. We are excited to bring such a meaningful and timely exhibit to central Minnesota."
“Before reconciliation, there must be truth – and the truth can be ugly,” said Justice Page of the exhibit. “But we cannot reconcile and move forward if an increasingly louder group of people continue to deflect, minimize and sweep history under the rug.”
The Pages wanted to share this exhibit in rural Minnesota because “We have respect for our fellow Minnesotans. So we want as many people as possible to have direct access to this information so they can form their own opinions - and these objects are facts. What folks choose to do with these facts is obviously up to them, but we hope they will create more understanding and help us move beyond the divisiveness we’ve seen lately," said Georgi Page-Smith. "I was actually very uncomfortable growing up with some of these objects and even with this conversation, but I do believe that ‘if we don’t know our past we are doomed to repeat it' - and we can't afford that; as a country we are wasting so much time already.”
The Pages are also encouraging people to find ways they can respond and take their inspiration into action. “Even just calling or writing elected officials to share how they think we might make things better and more fair can really make a difference, whether it’s education, healthcare, environmental justice or some other cause; TESTIFY is about inspiring action and finding ways to move forward,” said Page-Smith.
This photography exhibit is made possible with Arts & Cultural Heritage Funds from Minnesota's Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment.
About the Diane and Alan Page Collection
The Diane and Alan Page Collection is a selection of art and artifacts that paints a portrait of race relations and representation in the 19th through 21st centuries. Gathered by Diane and Alan Page over decades of civic engagement and very personal work in their community, the collection reflects their belief that even as we face the most painful aspects of our past so that they will not be repeated, we must also find bright moments of transcendence that point another way forward.
About the Cargill Gallery at the Minneapolis Central Library
An exhibition space located in Hennepin County’s Minneapolis Central Library, the Cargill Gallery presents exhibits and related programs in support of the library's mission to "nourish minds, transform lives, and build community together." Six major exhibits are presented annually, drawing from exhibits on loan from other institutions, exhibits curated by community partners, and exhibits featuring library collections. Topics may be interdisciplinary and include visual art, history, culture, literature and science.
The Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment
On Nov. 4, 2008,, Minnesota voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the state constitution. This amendment passed with 56% of the vote. The Amendment increases the sales and use tax rate by three-eighths of one percent, starting July 1, 2009 and continuing through 2034. Amendment dollars are dedicated to four separate funds: Outdoor Heritage Fund, Parks and Trails Fund, Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, Clean Water Fund.