Photo of artwork featuring two skulls set on black and white backgrounds.

Do White People Have A Separate Heaven?

February 19, 2020

Professor and sculpture Michael Brohman had four pieces of work at the most recent Emmanuel Art Gallery  exhibition, I Cannot Heave My Heart Into My Mouth. The exhibition, on display from Jan. 20 – Feb. 19, featured 22 faculty members’ various mediums, including sculpture, commentary, photography, sonic art, writing, painting, film, design, and more.

Through his materials and contrasts, Brohman examines culture and physical relationships. His piece captured above, titled  “Do White People Have A Separate Heaven?,” consists of a human skull (originally from Germany and purchased on eBay), white cowhide, black cowhide, and  painted steel. The piece examines the point at which discrimination ends and who is entitled to decide what happens in the afterlife, according to his artist statement. “Death is often said to be the great unifier, as it is something that everyone will have in common, but even in death there is separation,” Brohman writes in his statement. “Cemeteries have been legally segregated by race until only recently.”

In this piece he also questions the sale of human bones. “The sale of human bones has a history of colonialism attached to it that is still present today. Human remains were often acquired from non-European countries and shipped to the United States for use in medical schools to study anatomy,” he writes in his artist statement. “As a society we have all medically benefited from this practice but it has come at an ethical price.  These remains were frequently acquired without consent of the family or bought for a small sum of money from the poor living under a system that necessitated.”