The Lewelling House

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The goal of this block is to awaken in the viewer the historical ache that is the legacy of slavery in Iowa. Superimposed over an image of Iowa is a road map of the Underground Railroad, with squares and circles placed along the routes to indicate safety for runaway slaves. In the upper right hand corner of the state the artist has placed an image of the Lewelling house of Henry County, Iowa, a meeting place for abolitionist activists and one of the stops on the Underground Railroad. The stones and flowers which surround Iowa, vibrant and glimmering, allude to the power of preservation. With preservation in mind, we must ask ourselves: How can artists and activists revisit the historical bondage of our ancestors while attempting to move onwards to freedom? J.B. Grinnell founded Grinnell with abolition as one of his key tenets. As we peer into the history of Iowa we confront the question of whether Grinnell College continues to protect the freedom of the individual, or whether we have fallen into neoliberal agendas that serve our oppressors. The evocation of discomfort through the topic of slavery serves as a reminder of the necessity to reimagine the realities of imperialism within and without the U.S.