Montclair Art Museum to Host Fragile Freedoms Town Hall: Disparities in Our Community

Montclair, NJ – Montclair Art Museum (MAM) will host a Community Town Hall on March 18 inspired by its exhibition Fragile Freedoms: Maggie Meiners Revisits Rockwell, which explores modern reinterpretations of Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms.

Between the pandemic, racial injustice, the socio-economic divide, and other disparities, the sense of freedom and security in our community has become fragile and uncertain. This discussion will examine the extent of these disparities and explore what we can do as a community to take action.

Fragile Freedoms Town Hall: Disparities in Our Community will be moderated by Montclair community activist James Johnson, who believes that “this is a time of tremendous need, unprecedented in the midst of our lifetimes.” Johnson encourages the community to join the vital discussion. “Get informed then get involved. There’s much to do.”

The Town Hall will include issue-based breakout groups to further examine the extent of these disparities and explore what we can do as a community to take action.

Panelists and breakout group leaders include:

James E. Johnson, 79th Corporation Counsel of the City of New York
Renee Folzenlogen, Arts in Mental Health Coordinator, Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, Inc.
Anne Mernin, Executive Director, Toni’s Kitchen
Masiel Rodriquez-Vars, Executive Director, Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence (MFEE)

Artist Maggie Meiners – who will make a guest appearance – is excited by the dialogue this Town Hall will inspire.

“There is no time like the present to examine our individual roles as Americans and how that relates to our freedoms. MAM has afforded the local and virtual community numerous opportunities to explore these notions, connect with one another, and provide new perspectives on our lives as Americans,” says Meiners.

“We are excited to welcome members of the community to participate in the discussion of these critical issues,” adds Ira Wagner, Interim Director at Montclair Art Museum. “MAM is committed to having the arts play a critical role as a medium of observation and advocacy to address injustices in our nation.

Breakout Room Topics

  • Measure twice. Cut once. Understanding the dimensions of a problem and the system that produced it can help improve the results of your efforts to bring about social change. James E. Johnson is the 79th Corporation Counsel of the City of New York. Prior to leading the Law Department, Jim served dual roles as special counsel to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy for the Atlantic City transition and as a senior fellow at the Brennan Center.
  • Through their work with Latinx students and families, the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence (MFEE), is developing a nuanced understanding of the multiple needs they face and crafting holistic interventions to support them. The notion of Fragile Freedoms is deeply felt in the growing Latinx community of Montclair, particularly by those who are facing economic insecurity, language barriers, and extreme social isolation, especially for those who have joined the Montclair community during a pandemic. Join MFEE Executive Director, Masiel Rodriquez-Vars to learn more about the needs of our Latinx neighbors and how you can join our emerging, creative initiatives to ensure that their freedoms are a little less fragile.
  • For 70 years the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, Inc. (MHAEM) has served the mental health needs of residents in Essex, Morris, Passaic and Sussex Counties. They provide a diverse range of services to society’s most vulnerable citizens whose lives have been impacted by mental illness. The collective trauma of a global pandemic has impacted everyone’s mental health, revealing disparities as well as our common vulnerabilities. Join a breakout session to explore how together, we can make a difference, led by Renee Folzenlogen, MA, LPC, ATR-BC, Family Support Specialist, Intensive Family Support Services, Arts in Mental Health Coordinator, Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, Inc.
  • The pandemic has highlighted the fragility and inequity in some of our most fundamental structures and systems, which disproportionately affects the daily lives of low-income and low-wealth populations. Low-income and low-wealth populations experience the fragility of these structures daily. Food support systems can be reimagined to look beyond immediate food needs and provide reliable access to healthy food while also using the power of food to build more resilience into low-income communities and families.

    Join Anne Mernin, Executive Director of Toni’s Kitchen, to explore opportunities to use food as a way to provide meaningful, long-term support to low-income populations. Toni’s Kitchen is a food ministry of St. Luke’s Church.

Maggie Meiners and Renee Folzenlogen

Related Programs

The Vance Wall Art Education Center at MAM will present an Artist Lecture and a Master Class in conjunction with the exhibition Fragile Freedoms: Maggie Meiners Revisits Rockwell.

A Conversation About Art and Healing with Maggie Meiners and Renee Folzenlogen
5th Annual Gaelen Family Artist Lecture
April 1, 2021 at 6 p.m.
Member price: FREE / Non-member price: $10

The process of creating art can be a restorative and healing experience, as it is for artist Maggie Meiners. She will reflect on her personal journey with mental health and creativity in conversation with art therapist Renee Folzenlogen, from the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, Inc. Meiners will discuss her artistic practice throughout her career, including works on view in the exhibition Fragile Freedoms: Maggie Meiners Revisits Rockwell.

Creating Your America: A Master Workshop with Maggie Meiners
April 10 and May 1, 2–4:30 p.m.
Member price: $200 / Non-member price: $250

What message do you want to share about your America and our fragile freedoms? Join artist Maggie Meiners for a month-long journey as we seek to understand American society, and create an artifact to reflect your message in a medium of your choice. On the first day, students will hear from the artist about her process, personal journey, artistic influences, examine other artworks in MAM’s collection that reflect contemporary issues, and have a group discussion about our collective experience and individual stories of America. Students will then begin the process of creating their own work – personal creative journaling, defining a message, and determining the best media to express themselves.

Over the month, students will work independently on their artwork and share progress on a private online bulletin board for feedback and support from Meiners and fellow students. During the final class, students will discuss their artwork in a supportive environment.

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