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OVER the next six months, Guam has the special opportunity to experience “Between Fences,” an exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Museum on Main Street program.
The Guam Humanities Council has been working with historian Christine Taitano DeLisle, exhibit scholar and curator, to develop a Guam-focused companion exhibition and associated programs, entitled “I Kelat” or “The Fence: Historical Perspectives on Guam’s Changing Landscape.”
In a press conference held yesterday, Dr. Kimberlee Kihleng, executive director of the Guam Humanities Council, expressed her excitement at having the Smithsonian’s “Between Fences” exhibition to Guam, noting how the local component critically examines Guam’s colonial history as told through fences in the local landscape.
Today, the exhibit opens 6 p.m. at the T. Stell Newman Visitor Center in Sumay. The exhibit will tour in different venues throughout the island in a span of six months.
Carol Harse, director of the Museum on Main Street program, is on-island to conduct the exhibition installation workshop and to join the Council for the opening of the first venue.
March 29 to May 10:
T. Stell Newman Visitor Center,
War in the Pacific National Historical Park
May 19 to June 30:
Agana Shopping Center
July 12 to Aug. 16:
Harmon Loop, Dededo
Aug. 23 to Sept. 22:
Isla Center for the Arts,
University of Guam, Mangilao
“I think as you dig into the content of it and look at the exhibit, you’ll be surprised at the depth of the story,” Harse said. “In broad strokes, the exhibition looks at how we all live between fences.”
Harse spoke about the many ways we look at fences, how they are a part of who we are, how they are a dominant feature in our landscape, and yet we often overlook them. “The way that we define ourselves as individuals, as communities, and as a nation can really be conveyed by the fences we build,” she said. “Fences include, and they exclude. Fences build unity or they can be a tool that is used for intolerance. Fences draw people together and can sometimes keep people apart.”
On the surface, Harse explained, the exhibit is about the history of fences. But there’s a deeper way to look into it.
“In a deeper way, it allows the community to come together to think about what are the things that divide us,” she said, adding it also allows the community to look at its history and to use it as an opportunity to improve towards the future. “The community can come together ... discover ways to be good neighbors and to look to a common future.”
The exhibit not only allows the opportunity to examine the history of Guam, but it also is designed to spark community discussion. DeLisle pointed out how the discussion of the fence can move from the familiar, or tangible, to the intangible.
“I think it’s also important to take stock of the intangible fences,” she said. “We can think about gender, language, class, ethnicity, (and) sexuality even, as a kind of intangible fence, a metaphorical fence and how that prevents access to certain things that other people aspire to.”
On Monday, April 2, DeLisle will present a scholarly lecture at the T. Stell Newman Visitor Center beginning at 6 p.m.