FITZGERALD — An art installation that was built and displayed at the Fitzgerald Church of Nazarene has found a new home.
The exhibit was recently stolen and torn down after being at the church for two days.
The artist, Shelby Evans, volunteers with local non-profit groups South Georgia Immigrant Support Network (SGISN) and South East Immigrant Freedom Initiative (SIFI) [Full Disclosure: Evans has been a freelance correspondent for the Gazette.]
“I feel so strong about the humanitarian crisis at the border I felt like I needed to do more personally,” said Evans. “Volunteering is great, but I can only go once a week for a few hours and that felt like I was doing nothing.”
Evans said she wanted to find a way to show people the human side of the immigration debate. She decided to represent immigrant families by displaying a clothesline with clothes hanging from it. The idea was to show the disruption in the lives of immigrants who lose family members to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, Evans said.
Evans named the art installation, “On the Line.”
It took Evans and her pastor, Gary Mimbs, almost an entire day to set the installation up with a South Georgia heat index over 100 degrees. After the initial set-up, Evans and Mimbs moved the installation near the church playground.
After the installation was moved, the artwork was missing the next day. Evans got the installation back in pieces delivered to her door from an anonymous source. According to a note left by the anonymous person, people thought the message was too divisive to display at a church.
“I was told this shouldn’t be at a church because it was too politically divisive,” said Evans.
After searching for a new home for it, she found one in front of the Morris Abram mural in Fitzgerald.
“I’ve had incredible community support—many messages and phone calls and lengthy discussions after it was removed,” Evans said. “To me, each message and comment reaffirmed what I already knew: there are so many people in and around our community that are supportive of the message this is trying to share.
“To get the approval of local leadership to display my work lets me know that there is respect for freedom of speech and art making in our community.”