Museum to launch exhibit of art created after Castile shooting

Art and Healing: In the Moment
Art and Healing: In the Moment; June 16, 2018-July 29, 2018. I.Am.Mural, 2016
Courtesy the artists

After Philando Castile was shot and killed by a police officer in a Twin Cities suburb in 2016, his mother, Valerie Castile, received condolences from around the world.

People also sent her paintings, songs and children's drawings.

"At that moment, it was just a moving sense of urgency," Castile said, "people expressing their emotions through painting, dancing, singing — just the typical way that people respond."

Valerie Castile holds a lantern during Pastor Danny Givens' speech.
Valerie Castile holds a lantern during a celebration of the life of Philando Castile, when hundreds gathered to eat, dance, and join hands in support of Castile and his family on July 6, 2017.
Judy Griesedieck for MPR News

The art brought her comfort. Much of it featured her son's face.

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"I just had such a heartwarming feeling, just sitting there being surrounded by his images," Castile said. "I just wanted to share that with people."

This summer, two years after he was shot and killed during a traffic stop, the Minneapolis Institute of Art will launch "Art and Healing: In the Moment," with 15 works inspired by Philando Castile's life and the circumstances of his death.

The collection includes paintings, sculptures and videos — and it isn't just art. Running in tandem with the exhibit, the museum will host workshops and discussions on injustice and reconciliation. It's a collaboration between the museum, the Castile family and an advisory group of artists and activists from across the community.

Minnesota Governor's Residence protest
A lone protester pays her respects to Philando Castile on the steps of the governor's residence on Summit Avenue in St. Paul on July 26, 2016.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2016

Museum director Kaywin Feldman said it was a difficult exhibit to create. But the museum is dedicated to hosting conversations, she said, even when they aren't easy.

"We just wanted to make sure that we were offering our community the best possible chance to come and really think and see these works of art that are expressions of both love and pain and suffering," she said.

Philando Castile was 32 years old when he was pulled over for a broken taillight along Larpenteur Avenue in Falcon Heights on July 6, 2016. St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez fatally shot Castile less than a minute and a half later.

Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, streamed the aftermath on Facebook Live. The shooting made international headlines and sparked protests throughout the summer and across the country. Yanez was the first officer in Minnesota to be charged for shooting and killing someone while on duty. A jury found him not guilty on manslaughter and weapons charges last summer.

Judah O'Hara holds an image of Philando Castile.
Judah O'Hara, 4, a student at J.J. Hill Montessori school shows a sign in support of Philando Castile at a rally in St. Paul on Nov. 16, 2016.
Aaron Lavinsky | Star Tribune via AP 2016

Among the videos, paintings and other work in the exhibit is a poster created by St. Paul artist Leon Wang. It's a black-and-white image of Philando Castile's face, somewhere between a woodcut and stencil. It became an iconic image during the protests after the shooting and after the verdict.

"As with many people, we were wondering, how could this happen in a community I grew up in, my kids are growing up in?" Wang said. "Really, the best way for me to process it was really to turn to art."

Wang said he saw Valerie Castile and others putting their bodies on the line to protest. The art he made was his way of contributing to that movement.

"Art can say a thing that's often difficult or impossible to communicate in other ways," Wang said. "Art can heal. Art can be an instrument to make an impact, all of these things."

Wang's poster is included in the collection, Valerie Castile said, because the protests were so much a part of her son's story — which, she said, isn't over yet.

Castile and other family members and friends have established the Philando Castile Relief Foundation, which she said aims to support the families of people killed by gun violence. Supporters have also paid down students' lunch debts in St. Paul schools in his honor.

"What happened with my son will be a part of history, make no doubt about that," Valerie said. "And what better place to display it than in a museum?"

The exhibit "Art and Healing: In the Moment," will run at the Minneapolis Institute of Art from June 17 through July 29, 2018.