Current Exhibition

imageOur Town


Our Town: Reclaiming the Narrative

On exhibit at the Anderson Gallery from November 9thto February 20th.

Curated by Lenore Metrick-Chen, Professor of Art and Cultural History and students in Professor Metrick-Chen’s “Black Americans and Photography” course.

Our Town: Reclaiming the Narrative centers on the idea of individual agency and how it can lead to social change. Agency pertains to our ability to choose our actions—or non-actions.  It is the foundation for all freedom. The exhibition celebrates the diverse works of people in Des Moines’s Black communities whose individual choices and agency has led them to civic engagement and social change.

Our Town can only offer a sampling of these acts of agency and everyday bravery in Des Moines. The exhibition features short video interviews of Dwana Bradley, whose initiative started the Des Moines magazine Urban Experience, Laural Clinton, advocate against racial profiling, Elaine Estes, former head of the Des Moines Public Library, who, as a Drake student at the age of 16, desegregated the women’s dorm; advocate and Drake alumna, Ayinde Ashford, third year student at Drake Law, Maleigha Williams and Bailey Mosely, senior students at Drake University and members of the Coalition of the Black Students. In addition, this exhibition will examine the work of Joeanne Cheatom, Katherine Bryson, both activists from the 1960s.

In tandem with the celebration of the 50-year history of breakfast clubs for children in Des Moines, initiated by the Black Panther’s Des Moines Chapter and continued by CFUM, the exhibition will feature a timeline examining the history of breakfast clubs and their impact in the community. The timeline will feature comments by present and former participants in the breakfast club, including commentary by Ako Abdul-Samad, Iowa State Representative since 2001, who was the Lieutenant of the Des Moines chapter.

The exhibition also houses a smaller exhibition which contains eight pairs of artworks. These pairings images address the reclamation of one’s agency, often turning images emblematic of oppression on their head.

-Exhibition dates extended to February 20th, 2019!

Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 12:00-4:00 and until 8:00 on Thursdays. Closed Mondays. Open by appointment. Contact:, 515-271-1994

*Please note special winter break hours: Closed Sundays and Thursday at 6:00 pm during December and January. Closed December 21st through January 2nd. Please call ahead to confirm hours during the first week of January.


Watch videos from the exhibition on our Vimeo Album: