Posted March 13, 2022
DOORWAYS, 4385 Maryland Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63108
Recognizing Black History Month, Kehinde Wiley sculpture representing equity and empowerment for our clients was purchased for DOORWAYS by Gateway Foundation for placement as the cornerstone of our new campus in North St. Louis.
The statue memorializes our agency mission through its representation of strength and leadership. A few key points are noted below.
- DOORWAYS serves a disenfranchised community—those living in poverty, homelessness, plus battling HIV and other chronic illness associated with surviving in an under-resourced environment. Nearly 80% of our clients are African American, mirroring the demographics of the JeffVanderLou neighborhood that we will call home later this summer when our new campus opens its doors.
- Famous equestrian statues in the U.S. that memorialize Confederate leaders have been recently criticized and many removed for perpetuating a message of white authority; however, artist Kehinde Wiley is widely known for recreating these Confederate works of sculpture to feature African Americans dressed in contemporary attire, changing the message from victimization to strength.
- We view this art provided by the Gateway Foundation as a visualization of the DOORWAYS mission of providing housing to stabilize health and resources to improve equity, opportunities, and inclusion—embodying a message of progress and empowerment for African Americans and all those experiencing discrimination (such as those with HIV).
- The placement in North St. Louis breaks barriers, bringing sculpture into an area typically overlooked for public displays of art. Furthermore, this is the first equestrian sculpture in St. Louis to feature a Black man in the position of triumph and power normally accorded only to white males.
- Wiley is known to St. Louisans for his exhibition in 2018/2019 at the St. Louis Art Museum of 11 large-scale oil paintings of contemporary African American St. Louis models in poses reminiscent of the grand traditions of European and American portraiture found in the Museum’s collection. The works were his response to the 2017 Ferguson protests.
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