On the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a new immersive art exhibit debuted in the AT&T Discovery District in Dallas.
“This project started as a way to not only explore this nation’s painful past but also reclaim my family’s legacy. I can trace my familial roots in Texas all the way back to the 1800s, but that’s a privilege that most black Americans don’t have due to the destructive effects caused by slavery,” explained Rodney Hawkins, creator of the exhibit.
“It’s so important that our ancestors are honored, so it seemed fitting to launch this experience on a weekend that commemorates our history through the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”
“We have to be able to give flowers to our ancestors in some shape or form. But we can’t do that if we don’t know where they are,” Hawkins told NBC 5 DFW in July.
Hawkins hopes that the exhibit will inspire more black Texans to research their own family legacies.
The Mount Experience (TME) uses a combination of photography, augmented reality, audio recordings, and visual installations to transform the lobby of AT&T Headquarters into the piney woods of East Texas.
A DFW native and third-generation Texan, Hawkins is the founder of Tiny Hawk Productions, a full-service production company specializing in feature-length documentaries and documentary series.
TME gives attendees an immersive look into the 200-year-old overgrown cemetery that Hawkins and his family are helping to restore. The cemetery Hawkins and his family uncovered is now recognized by the Texas Historic Commission as a historic landmark.
The Old Mount Gillion Cemetery is located in Nacogdoches.
The restoration was recounted in a three-part series on CBS Mornings from 2020 through 2022.
The art exhibit will also feature photography from Kwesi Yanful, a portrait photographer and clinical pharmacist.
Also showcased in the exhibit are works from local artists T’Ria Hurd and Trevor Donaldson, along with educational research by Dr. Eric Bing, a genealogist, researcher, physiologist, epidemiologist, and professor at Southern Methodist University; Dr. Perky Beisel, an archaeologist, cemetery restorer, historian, and professor at Stephen F. Austin State University; and Kyle Ainsworth, an archivist, researcher, Lone Star Slavery Project Creator and special collections librarian at Stephen F. Austin State University.
TME is free of charge and open to the public seven days a week. The exhibit’s hours are Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m.-6 p.m.
The exhibit is located at AT&T Showcase at 208 S. Akard Street.
The exhibition will officially close on Tuesday, February 28.