In “Facing Georgetown’s History,” Student Artists Reflect on the GU272

An intricate monochrome pencil drawing of Healy Hall with the names of enslaved people written in every detail along the bricks and surrounding trees.

Starting April 8, Lauinger Library will host an exhibition on its Fourth Floor Community Gallery reflecting on Georgetown University’s role in the injustice of slavery and the legacies of enslavement and segregation in our nation. "Facing Georgetown’s History Through Art" will showcase multifaceted artwork from the capstone projects of students in Prof. Adam Rothman’s History 099: Facing Georgetown’s History course from 2021 to 2023. 

The students in the class studied the archival record, absorbed historical facts and scholarship, and thereby considered the meanings of slavery, memory, and reconciliation. Through meticulous research and artistic license, they crafted pieces that vividly illustrate the lives, struggles, and journeys of the enslaved children, women, and men owned and sold by the Maryland Jesuits who led Georgetown. The artworks in this exhibit use a variety of techniques and media to visualize history, including watercolor, printmaking, collage, and quilting. 

The students confronted the archival record and its gaps with respect to the GU272. Their artwork brings life to the names that appear in lists and ledgers, imbuing people in the past with agency, dignity, and humanity. By reviving archival materials through art, the exhibit challenges viewers to reckon with the uncomfortable truths of Georgetown's past and to recognize the enduring legacies of slavery. 

Furthermore, the artwork serves as a testament to the resilience and strength of the descendants of the GU272. By highlighting their stories and experiences, the exhibit honors their enduring legacy and underscores the importance of centering their voices in discussions about Georgetown's history. Through art, the descendants' narratives are amplified and their humanity affirmed, challenging viewers to confront the ongoing impact of slavery and to actively work toward a more just and equitable future.

This exhibit not only memorializes the GU272 but also provides tools for education and reflection. Each piece invites viewers to engage critically with Georgetown's history, prompting questions about responsibility, accountability, and the ways in which institutions grapple with their complicity in systemic injustices. The students’ artwork encourages us to confront uncomfortable realities of the past while considering their implications for the present and future. The exhibit encourages dialogue, introspection, and collective action towards reconciliation and justice.

Please join us on Thursday, April 18, 4:00-5:00 pm for an opening reception to celebrate the outstanding artworks in Facing Georgetown's History Through Art exhibition.

This event is open to everyone at Georgetown University and the public. Visitors to Georgetown will be asked to show a government-issued ID and sign in to enter the Library. Refreshments will be served.