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April 7, 2020

Edward M. Kennedy Institute launches microsite for popular art exhibit on diversity and inclusion in democratic process

New digital creation will provide components from past and for future collaboration

BOSTON – Today, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate announced the introduction of a new website dedicated completely to the “A Seat at the Table” exhibition and all of its related artwork and stories. Inspired by Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm’s words and work toward the creation of a more inclusive democracy, the installation opened in the fall of 2018 with massive interest. The project garnered both national recognition and local participation as the exhibition evolved to incorporate diverse statements about inclusion and representation. The new microsite enables access for everyone to explore the chairs included in the exhibition, resources to learn about key figures, and the chance to make their own chair that exemplifies what their voices at the figurative table of democracy would communicate.

As the “A Seat at the Table” exhibit evolved, the Institute gathered an extensive collection of stories about community concerns and perspectives on democracy, told through beautifully crafted chairs. This growing collection of stories will now transition from a physical presence at the Institute to a digital format that preserves the powerful images and statements created by the many exhibit collaborators. The new microsite, entitled bringyourownchair.org, allows the Institute to share these amazing stories widely, and encourage others to forge their own seats at the table.

The “A Seat at the Table” exhibit has featured chairs that were created in partnership with community groups and individuals during Institute-hosted workshops at schools, cultural organization events, libraries, and social justice offices. The chair-makers creatively express their thoughts on identity, values, and the social issues that need to be addressed at inclusive tables of power. The exhibit features audio recordings of the chair-makers’ visions about their art, and a feedback area where visitors can contribute their own thoughts about representation and access to spaces of power.

The next evolution of “A Seat at the Table” opened on June 2019 to feature twenty artist-designed chairs that represent the stories of both historic and contemporary trailblazers who found their own seats at various tables of power. Trailblazer stories tell of persistence, strength, bravery, and leadership in diverse realms of public service, from government to education to civil rights to science.

“While our gallery space is finite, the beauty of this digital exhibit is that it can host as many seats at the table as are submitted. We are proud to start with images of the amazing chairs made by our community partners as well as the breathtaking pieces by our commissioned artists,” said Caroline Angel Burke, Kennedy Institute vice president of education, visitor experience & collections. “We also invite others to create and submit their own photographs, and bring their own seats to the ever-growing table.”

Sections of the microsite include a highlight of communities and organizations who helped make the exhibition an inclusive reflection of the region, images with every documented chair, press coverage from various phases of the project, recognition of artists and trailblazers who were a focus in the exhibit, and resources for interested website visitors to make their own chair.

“Identity, representation, and inclusion are the themes expressed by the artists and community groups who made physical chairs for the exhibit at the Kennedy Institute,” said Jan Crocker, Kennedy Institute senior exhibit and content developer. “Opening up to online submissions of new chairs continues the exploration of these themes and creates a new place for the heart of ‘A Seat at the Table’ to evolve.”

Crafted by the company Web & Apps Design, this microsite will be a cutting edge overview of the entire “A Seat at the Table” project from its inception. Additionally, it will provide the chance for individuals to learn about an inclusive democracy with representation for themselves at the table. The exhibit’s digital venue will serve as a platform to help further support artistic expression and civic engagement for years to come.

The “A Seat at the Table” project was generously supported by the Fund II Foundation. The Institute is grateful for the inclusion of this project in the foundation’s deep commitment to advancing social change.

About the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate
The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, civic education organization in Boston envisioned by the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Through a range of exhibits, interactive educational offerings, and topical programs, the Institute engages students and visitors in a conversation about the essential role each person plays in our democracy and in our society. Learn more via emkinstitute.org.

About Web & Apps Design
Web & Apps Design is a full-service Web Design and Application Development firm, enabling businesses and non-profits to imagine and create their digital future on the Web. Our mission is to create value for our customers with new digital tools; our method is to consistently deliver ideas and work that matter and exceed client expectations. Additional information is available at webandappsdesign.com.

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