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'The Six Feet Away Museum' In Florida Becomes Place For Discussions On Race, Justice

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Shawana Brooks is an art curator. Her husband, Roosevelt Watson III, is an artist. The pandemic closed all the art spaces where they live in Jacksonville, Fla. But when they were cleaning up their home studio, they had an idea.

NOEL KING, HOST:

The couple turned their yard into a gallery. They put up a sign. It's called The Six Feet Away Museum. And people came. A lot of Roosevelt's artwork examines race and justice, and that resonated with their neighborhood.

ROOSEVELT WATSON III: The community loved it, and that was the one kicker that we wanted because a lot of the urban community don't feel welcome in museums.

INSKEEP: So they've got this project going. It's outdoors. It's safer. And then George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis. Protests began across the country. Roosevelt's art displayed in public took on more meaning.

SHAWANA BROOKS: And you could see people - their mentality and how they needed to connect around this art and how they also needed to talk.

KING: Now their gallery is a gathering place for critical conversations.

BROOKS: Art really helps to make those hard dialogues. And much of his work goes to a lot of the historical context around racial inequities and his experience as a black person.

INSKEEP: Shawana Brooks and Roosevelt Watson III bringing art to their community.

(SOUNDBITE OF ILLA J'S "ALIEN FAMILY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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