Through Visual Art Exhibitions, YMI Center and UCC Become 'Sisters In Reciprocity'

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A 10-minute walk and a half-century of histories separate Asheville’s YMI Cultural Center from the First Congregational UCC Church . “This church is very white,” said Mandy Kjellstrom, a church member and an organizer for social justice art exhibits at the church’s Oak Street Gallery. “I’d say we only have three or four people in our congregation who are black (out of) 150, 175.” The Young Men’s Institute, on the other hand, has been a center of Black culture since the early 20th century. Now, leaders with the church and center are calling each other “sisters in reciprocity” over a commitment to share visual art exhibitions organized by and highlighting local Black artists and issues affecting the Black community.

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