Downtown Rockville Public Art Focuses on Lynchings in County’s Past

During November, the Montgomery County Remembrance and Reconciliation Commission  urges residents to reflect on the county’s past, including the fact that at least three men were lynched here in the late 1800s.

As part of the remembrance, six pieces of artwork will be projected onto eight buildings in downtown Rockville. The locations are close enough for spectators to take a walking tour of all eight. Certain Party or Parties Unknown will be displayed Nov. 5 and Nov. 6.

The six artists were commissioned to create a temporary, multimedia public art exhibit designed to further conversations about racial justice and were to focus on the racial lynchings of John Diggs-Dorsey, Sidney Randolph and George Peck.

Curtis Woody, of Upper Marlboro, created a piece that includes newspaper articles and advertisements dealing with lynching. His piece centers on a large tree and hands, which he said could be the hands of the people being lynched or the Black community in general. Actual nooses and faces appear toward the top and aren’t emphasized.

While researching the topic, Woody said, “I was amazed at how it had kind of a picnic atmosphere, women and children coming. It was just terrible.”

He wants people viewing the gigantic projections to take time to think. “When I do my work, I hope people will look at it and reflect and then they will read the history. Maybe, in some way, my work will contribute to the way they treat other people,” he said as he viewed his work projected over the County Council building on Maryland Avenue for the first time during a practice run.

Suzan Jenkins, CEO of the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, which coordinated the project, is a member of the county’s Remembrance and Reconciliation Commission. She explained the idea of the commemoration in November is to help people examine the topic as well as Rockville’s place in history.

The other artists are Nikki Brooks, Tim Davis, Alix Lambert, Liz Miller and LaShell Rivers.

Photos courtesy André Chung

  • Certain Party or Parties Unknown by Curtis Woody
    Photo courtesy André Chung

  • Certain Party or Parties Unknown by Curtis Woody
    Photo courtesy André Chung

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Suzanne Pollak

About Suzanne Pollak

Suzanne is a freelance reporter with Montgomery Community Media. She has over 35 years professional experience writing for newspapers, magazines, non-profit newsletters and the web.


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