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Trahern Gallery's First Fall Exhibit Personifies Slaveship Misery

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Austin Peay State University Department of Art and Design Trahern Exhibition Schedule
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Fifteen concrete figures of men, women and children augment a dark time in history through the powerfully crafted visual narrative of sculptor Stephen Hayes' Cash Crop, the first of this season's exhibits coming to Austin Peay University's Trahern Gallery.  Gallery Director Michael Dickens speaks with Kate on Sounds Good  about the lineup this season and the opening exhibit Cash Crop

Chained in shackles hand-forged by the artist, the life-sized sculptures of human beings represent the 15 million people who were kidnapped and transported by sea during the transatlantic slave trade. 

"We're not going to pull any punches this year," Michael says. "We're going to start some conversations and some dialogue with the students, using art to do that."

Helping stand up each sculpture is a wooden boat carving, on the back of which are diagrams explaining how to economically store as many slaves on a single ship as possible. 

A gallery book will present historical research to the viewer, providing context for the exhibit and a sense of what the artist was looking at and reading while constructing the piece. 

"It examines the history that is sometimes glossed over in the history books," Michael says. "History books state that this happened, but they don't go into the physical, emotional and psychological aspects of what it must have been like to be a slave on this ship."

Cash Crop will be exhibited from August 24 to September 21. A lunchtime lecture and reception with the artist, Stephen Hayes, will be held on September 21 from 12:30-2 p.m. 

More information on the season's exhibition lineup can be found here

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