At the WDRC, we strive to stay relevant and ensure that our services meet the community’s ever evolving needs. Recently, we’ve had a chance to do just that, working with our neighbors at the Whatcom Museum. Supported by a Whatcom Community Foundation Project Neighborly Grant, the Museum recruited the WDRC to participate in preparations for an upcoming exhibition, “Wanted: Ed Bereal for Disturbing the Peace.”
Opening on September 7th, “Wanted” showcases the artwork of Whatcom County based artist Ed Bereal. The exhibition features six decades of his work, from Bereal’s never before exhibited early journal sketches and self-portraits to his symbolic assemblage to his radical street theater work of the 1960s and ’70s. Many of Bereal’s more recent paintings and installations examine racial inequity, gun violence, corporate greed, and political power structures.
The WDRC has the privilege of supporting the exhibition in two ways. First, we provided basic conflict resolution training to the museum’s frontline staff and volunteer docents. Anticipating that the provocative themes in Bereal’s artwork might evoke strong responses from visitors, the museum wanted to equip its staff and volunteers with some active listening and de-escalation tools. Over 20 museum staff and docents participated in the training in August.
Secondly, the WDRC will support the museum in facilitating “Art, Politics, and Community: A Conversation Inspired by Ed Bereal’s Work”. The public is invited to join the Whatcom Museum and the WDRC for an exciting and collaborative conversation inspired by “Wanted”. Community leaders, including WWU Political Science Professor Vernon Damani Johnson, and Bellingham Chief of Police David Doll, will join artist Ed Bereal in leading a roundtable discussion focused around art, politics, and their impacts in our community. Participants will break out into smaller groups allowing for constructive conversation that promotes tolerance, respect, and non-violent communication. Taking place from 4-5:30 PM on September 21, the event is free, but advanced registration is required.
Partnerships like the one with the Whatcom Museum are essential because they give WDRC staff the opportunity to think about our curriculum from a different perspective, draw new connections, and expand awareness of our mission and services. Plus, they give us the chance to step outside our area of expertise and learn about things like curating art and what it takes to be a museum docent!
About the Whatcom Museum
Located in Bellingham’s cultural district, the Whatcom Museum, a non-profit organization operated jointly by the City of Bellingham and the Whatcom Museum Foundation, offers a rich variety of programs and exhibitions about art, nature, and Northwest history. The Museum’s collection contains more than 200,000 artifacts and art pieces of regional importance, including a vast photographic archive. The Whatcom Museum is accredited nationally by the American Alliance of Museums, is a member of the American Association of State and Local History, and is a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate.
The Whatcom Museum has two buildings with public hours: Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St., and the Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St., both open Wednesday - Sunday, noon – 5 PM. The Family Interactive Gallery, located in the Lightcatcher, is open Wednesday - Saturday 10 AM - 5 PM; Sunday noon - 5 PM. More info at www.whatcommuseum.org