National Endowment for the Arts awards grant to Unlearn Fear + Hate project

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Posted: Tuesday, June 20, 2017

LEXINGTON, Ky.—Transylvania University professors Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova have received $10,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts to create a permanent, illuminated artwork as part of their ongoing Unlearn Fear + Hate cycle of artworks.

The artwork will be a large sculptural halo mounted on a downtown building. The location for the installation is to be determined.

The NEA grant provides initial funding for the sculptural halo, and includes LexArts as a partner.

This grant will also help to facilitate the creation of hand-painted illuminations made by people within the Lexington community.

The purpose of Unlearn Fear + Hate is to promote community engagement and dialog. "In part a visual petition to unlearn fear and prejudice, in part a commitment to treating others with compassion and justice, Unlearn Fear + Hate invites everyone to participate," Todorova said.

The wide-ranging public artwork is named after words from a poem by Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker. Unlearn Fear + Hate kicked off last summer with the installation of a smaller sculptural halo on the side of the downtown 21c Museum Hotel.

Since then it has resonated throughout Lexington with other art installations, photography, stenciling and more—with participation from numerous school and community groups. Also, Transylvania incorporated the theme into its curriculum.

"The idea for Unlearn Fear + Hate was born in 2015, during a summer of national tensions and local conversations that were difficult and, at times, antagonizing,” Gohde said. “It was an idea that we feel has become more urgent since that time."