Projectionist grew up in the church, happy to use his art to stand for justice
by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — The international headquarters of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will be bearing witness to God’s love for Black lives and solidarity with calls for an end to systemic racism on its exterior wall later this week.
As part of the Presbyterian Week of Action, continuing through Aug. 30, a series of projections will be shown on the upper east-facing wall of the Presbyterian Center affirming Black lives and calling for justice for Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was killed by police in the church’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.
Taylor was sleeping in her Louisville apartment when police broke in serving a no-knock warrant after midnight March 13. She was shot eight times in an exchange of gunfire between officers and her boyfriend, who said he believed they were intruders. Thus far, only one officer has been fired and none have been charged in Taylor’s death. Both Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and the FBI are investigating the incident.
Taylor’s death, along with the police or police-related deaths of George Floyd in Minnesota, Tony McDade in Florida, and Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks in Georgia have fueled a national uprising against police violence and systemic racism this summer.
“God has called us, as people of faith, to seek justice for those most marginalized in our world,” said the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. “As a Matthew 25 denomination, it is the vision of our church to eradicate white supremacy and dismantle institutionalized racism. The projection of beliefs supported by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) creeds and confessions lets the world know that we are indeed faithful followers of Jesus.”
The messages projected will include statements such as “Black Lives Matter,” “Justice for Breonna,” and statements from Presbyterian confessions such as “God Delights in Black Lives.”
Most recently that has fueled the formation of the church’s Bearing Witness Committee to provide resources and action toward that goal.
Earlier this month, the committee led the effort to hang two signs saying “Presbyterians Affirm Black Lives Matter” on the front of the Presbyterian Center, and it has organized the Week of Action activities, including the building projections. The committee’s work will continue after the Week of Action.
The projections are being presented by David Jester of Mimic Visuals, LLC in Louisville.
His father is the Rev. Steve Jester of Second Presbyterian Church in Louisville, so it was no surprise to the younger Jester that the church was interested in making a very public statement of support.
“The Presbyterian Church has been at the forefront of activism, so I wasn’t surprised,” he said of receiving a call from the church to make public statements of solidarity. But he had grown up watching the deliberative, committee-oriented process of the PC(USA) and said he was “surprised at the speed and intensity of the church taking action.”
Jester started doing projections for musicians and artists several years ago. As the uprising started following the deaths of Floyd and Taylor, he said, “I wanted to use my skills and resources as a white ally to speak out against the injustice I was seeing in the world.”
This summer, he says he has been busy, working with groups such as Black Lives Matter Louisville and Until Freedom, as well as an artist collective called proJECT Hope Louisville, a national project to support music venues under the hashtag #SaveOurStages, and a COVID-19 awareness campaign projecting messages on hospital walls.
With its multilevel roof, the Presbyterian Center, Jester says, is particularly well suited for projections. The way the building is situated at 100 Witherspoon Avenue allows him to project from a lower roof onto a prominent wall that faces a busy part of downtown and busy interstates. He has rented an extra-powerful projection that he says will make the messages “pop” even more than they did during a test run completed last week using his own equipment.
Jester said the projections will show three or four nights between Wednesday and Monday, depending on weather. He aims to project Wednesday through Saturday but is allowing for rain dates as stormy weather is predicted toward the weekend in Louisville. He said he can project in light rain, but not in heavier rain, wind or lightning.
“It makes me proud that I was raised in a denomination that had women pastors, gay pastors, and stood for the progressive issues that are really important to me,” Jester said. “I am really happy to be part of a project whose goal is to further spread the love.”
Read more about the Week of Action
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Categories: Matthew 25, Racial Justice
Tags: bearing witness committee, black lives matter, black lives matter louisville, breonna taylor, david jester, dismantling structural racism, god delights in black lives, matthew 25 invitation, mimic visuals llc, presbyterian center, presbyterian week of action, project hope louisville, projections, racial justice, rev. dr. diane moffett, rev. steve jester, Second Presbyterian Church, until freedom
Ministries: Gender, Racial and Intercultural Justice, Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries