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Making the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial
Making the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial is an exhibit featuring photographs, plans, artifacts and documents pertaining to the creation of the Clayton, Jackson, McGhie Memorial as designed and created by artist Carla Stetson, with text by Anthony Peyton Porter and commissioned by the City of Duluth.
The exhibit opens June 17 to coincide with Juneteenth, and runs until July 10.
The exhibit opening begins at 4 p.m. at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial on the corner of East First Street and Second Avenue East. Participants will be invited to walk two blocks to the Nordic Center for a discussion with the artist and a gallery viewing from 5 to 7 p.m. Additional exhibit hours are Fridays from noon to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m.
Stetson and Porter’s proposal was selected from a National Call for Entries in 2001, and the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial was completed in 2003. It is the first large-scale memorial dedicated to lynching victims in the United States. The wall, quotations and sculptures are meant to raise questions and enable discussions about this horrific event, which had long been covered up. On June 15, 1920, a mob broke into the Duluth jail where Isaac McGhie, Elias Clayton and Elmer Jackson were among six circus workers who were held in connection to an alleged rape. The mob dragged them up the hill where they were hung from a lamppost adjacent to the Memorial site. A photograph of the lynching was later distributed as postcards.
Making the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial will include drawings, photographs as well as other documents and materials that Stetson and writer Anthony Peyton Porter used during the creative process of designing the memorial. Stetson hopes that the exhibit will illuminate the creative process involved in making the memorial.
Stetson was born in the suburbs of Chicago in 1953. She received a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from Vermont College. She moved to Minnesota in 1987 and lived in Duluth for 20 years during which she made three public sculptures in the city. She moved to Ithaca, N.Y., in 2008 to teach art at Ithaca College. She currently lives and creates in a renovated barn with her partner in Ithaca. Her work has been displayed in many regional, national and international exhibitions.
On June 16, from 7 to 8 p.m., the Nordic Center presents author Karen F. Nance for an online conversation about her new book The Duluth Lynching – A Family Perspective, over Zoom. Nance is the granddaughter of civil rights activist Ethel Ray Nance who worked with W.E.B. DuBois. A biography about her grandmother is one of Nance’s next projects.
The Nordic Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing Nordic Culture with the greater community through social, educational and arts programs.