An upcoming exhibit responding to the killing of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer won’t be your typical art show.

The “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” exhibit will open Oct. 17 and 18 in more than a dozen galleries — and one entire city.

The Ferguson Public Library and the city of Ferguson as a whole are listed among the exhibition spaces. That’s because the burned-out QuikTrip and the monuments to Michael Brown can also be seen as living works of art, according to curator Freida Wheaton.

“The city of Ferguson is ‘ground zero’ for the Aug. 9, 2014, killing of Michael Brown Jr.,” Wheaton said. “Ferguson stands as a place of reverence, for inspiration for artists and hope for a positive future.”

Wheaton encourages St. Louisans and visitors to work their way around to all the exhibition locations.

“Pretty much like the 250th birthday cakes. Go to each one of them because, otherwise, you might not get the full experience,” Wheaton said.

Several of the exhibition spaces belonging to members of the Alliance of Black Art Galleries, the Regional Arts Commission in University City and the Saint Louis University Museum of Art. Wheaton hopes people will visit spaces they might not normally frequent.

“We want people to interact with each other, to interact with other neighborhoods and to venture out from their perhaps safer zone,” Wheaton said.

The exhibit will include paintings, drawings, collage, photography, sculpture and new media. The works will explore issues including civil rights, voting, racial disparities, police brutality, community empowerment and the right to assemble.

The co-owner of 10th Street Gallery, a member of the Alliance, stressed the importance of responding to the events of Ferguson using art.

“We are taking advantage of an opportunity to document history,” Pat Thurman said. “If you look back to what was going on in the '60s and the early '70s or any era in the United States, it’s always been documented through some sort of media.”

The work of 101 artists are featured in the exhibition, including pieces from several Alliance gallery owners. Each exhibit opening will also feature a selection of performance art, including spoken word and dance. The show runs through Dec. 20. The art will be shown again at three venues during February, Black History Month.

For more information, visit!abagalleries.

Reprinted with permission from

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