Atlanta Life and Culture

The AJC Features Team spotlights arts previews, reviews, profiles, news features and breaking news on Atlanta's cultural and life scene.

Atlanta museum hopes to "change the world" with the help of Beyonce

An Atlanta museum is hoping to lead the discussion on social issues with the help of one of pop music's biggest superstars.

The Museum of Design Atlanta's (MODA) "The Lemonade Project" is a free, year-long series that will utilize Beyonce's visual album "Lemonade" to tackle issues of race, gender and class.

After the first three sessions of the series were announced, they quickly sold out. According to MODA's executive director Laura Flusche, 200 peopled enrolled in the initial session, which will take place today (Oct. 28). 66 people have been wait-listed.

We stopped by MODA to discuss the upcoming series with executive director Laura Flusche, curator of connectivity Maria Cramer, education coordinator and design club manager Blair Banks and LAB Atlanta's Aretina Hamilton. The four women created the series after discovering their mutual love for the visual album and the "Lemonade Syllabus."

Will the series look at other works outside of “Lemonade”?

“It’s definitely an entry point. So, Beyonce’s that nice cold glass of iced tea or lemonade before you have the main course. The great thing about the "Charleston Syllabus" is it deals with different issues, including intersectionality, race, sexuality and class. Beyonce helps us look at these issues, but where else can we go from there?” – Hamilton

What are some ways that design play into social justice movements?

“You start to hear really interesting stories where people design grassroots movements like giving people the name “Black Lives Matter” at Starbucks so that when your drink is ready that gets yelled out.

“I think sometimes we think of design as being applied to objects or systems, but we all design ourselves every single day and part of it is what we’re socialized to be and part of it we’re conscious of. ‘What am I going to wear today? How am I going to present myself today? What’s my hair going to look like? What language am I going to use?'” - Flusche

How does a series like this fit in at MODA?

“Here at MODA we pursue our work along the lines of two very basic research questions that the staff and the board asks themselves all the time, and we try to work through them with everything we do. One of them is 'What is the museum of the 21st Century?' There will always be a place for the universal museum like the Metropolitan Museum of Art that we go to look at beautiful paintings and we behave in particular ways, but not every museum is the MET or MOMA. When you’re a smaller museum you have an opportunity to impact your community in a different way. So we’re asking ourselves all the time ‘How does a museum impact its community in the 21st century,' which then dovetails into the second question that we’re asking, which is 'Can a design museum change the world?' Design is an active process. It’s a force that we can put to use. And, if we can design a way for people to talk to each other and to talk about really important issues, and design a space where that can happen safely, then I think we are a design museum that’s changing the world.” - Flusche

“We’ve written into the copy on our website, “social justice is something that should be completely accessible.” – Cramer

“From an educational standpoint, this is public scholarship. When I used to teach African American studies, I always used Beyonce and pop culture but that was in a college environment. This is for the entire city. We’re looking for people that would say ‘I don’t understand what MODA is,' and they wouldn’t be attracted necessarily to some of these other events, but they’ll come to this. We literally want to make it an inclusive event. I would say that in Atlanta we don’t have a lot of those. – Hamilton

Reader Comments ...

About the Author

Jewel Wicker is an Atlanta native, Georgia State University graduate and entertainment reporter. She typically covers local events.