Twin Cities artist's new show re-lives the horrors of lynchings in the U.S.

At the historic Mounds Theater in St. Paul, a dark chapter in U.S. history is taking center stage.

"Let's relive a little of this history and allow people to go through what I go through every day," said abstract artist Sean Garrison.

Garrison calls "The Darkness In My Skin" a live painting experience, where he paints human effigies hanging on stage. Garrison says his depiction of a mass lynching is meant to be provocative and create a conversation about how the system that created the lynching era is still being felt today.

"This history hurts. They don't want to talk about it. They see the manifestations of it every day, and it's easy to walk away from the pain than deal with it and say 'ok. let's heal from this'," said Garrison.

Sean says the murder of George Floyd prompted a racial reckoning across the country and around the world, but he says since then other police shootings, racial disparities and violence in inner cities haven't received the same response.

"It told me that in order for people to act and respond, it has to be in your face. It has to be something you can't look away from. How can I get you to stop for a minute and think that your inaction is actually an action," said Garrison.

Sean says as difficult as it may be to talk about the country's troubled past, it's only by doing so and coming up with new solutions to age-old problems that we can find a way to a brighter future.

"The hope is that people can say 'hey, let's do this right'. The conversation we've been having hasn't been working, not effectively, or we wouldn't still be having the conversation," said Garrison.

"We've come a little bit. We've got a long way to go and I don't understand why we are still walking, and we are not sprinting."