Mother and Son Become Artist and Activist Team

By: Alexys Swygert 

Most people know that Duncan Kirkwood does advocacy work in our community and fights to empower parents and neighborhoods. But what most people don’t know, is that his mother Iris Kirkwood is an artist who has sent her work to several different states. Most recently on Feb 22nd, Iris Kirkwood unveiled a piece of public art titled “On My Way” that was featured at the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center.

Her piece spoke to a dark past of world transit and manmade barriers created to limit opportunities for people of color. From the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade to the Trail of Tears there have been horrible atrocities committed around the movements of people from one place to another. Iris’ work with the Underground brought nearly 100 visitors to the Underground Railroad Heritage center on their opening night including observers who had never visited an art exhibit to those who were seasoned art critics.

Duncan, who attended a Historically Black College, said that “besides being proud of my mother, this exhibit and venue were important to me because Harriett Tubman is my favorite historical freedom fighter.

Not only did she resist the injustice and escape, but she went back to rescue others and show them the way to freedom.”

From the Exhibit: 

Doors open

Doors close

Aid is given

Chances are taken

But always

The journey towards freedom continues…

“On My Way” surveys the movements of people and depicts a frozen moment of negotiation, struggle, conflict and also hope in pursuing survival and freedom