Celebrating February- Black History Month

Celebrating Black History 2024

We want to honor Black History Month by drawing attention to six alumni who exemplify this year’s theme: African Americans and the Arts. This roundup includes two visual artists exploring the scars and echoes of slavery, a filmmaker exploring anxiety, a scholar exploring the intersection of Black and Indigenous medical traditions in colonial America, the blogger behind Black Girl in Maine, and a Zimbabwe-born chef with a great recipe for oxtail stew.

With Fuchsia and Purple Light, Asata Radcliffe Explores the Scars of the Civil War

Arm, Art featured by Asata Radcliff

In 2020, the writer and artist Asata Radcliffe created a “living installation” of a hurt that does not end at the home of Abraham and Harriet Niles in Portland, Maine, the parents of three Black soldiers who were recruited to fight in the Civil War only to be massacred by Confederate soldiers when they tried to surrender. This haunting eulogy, titled “A Slower Ontology,” was told through fuchsia and purple light. It’s a story of an artist in words and in visuals, a mark of an artist who knows the power of history and memory—and knows answers are rarely given to difficult questions…

What’s Broken Is Still Beautiful: The Sculptures of Deborah McDuff Williams

This summer, in the center of the main gallery of the Center for Social Justice & Civil Liberties in Riverside, California, there stood a giant assembled artwork: a bouquet of wood with sticks, diverse colored beads, ropes, and dowels of different sizes sticking out in all directions, all topped off by a barrel that represented the hull of a ship, filled with a few dozen dried, carefully decorated palm fronds. An intricate assemblage from artist Deborah McDuff Williams full of story and suffering…

Mastered: Weaving Together Art, Expression, and Wellness

As a third grader, Marc Stallion stood in his closet, the one place he knew he could find privacy. There, by the coats, where it was calm and quiet, he pulled paper napkin after paper napkin out of his pockets. Earlier in the day, he had taken these from the lunch line at school; before, amidst, and after class, he would fill them with his own poems. Back at home, in the intimacy of his closet, he recited them over and over again. He listened to the way his voice brought words to life, the ways words gave him a voice…

Quilting a Community of Hope and Justice

Claudia J. Ford ’86, ’15 (Antioch College, MBA in Health Administration and Antioch New England, PhD in Environmental Studies)

Claudia Ford’s work—as a scholar, as a teacher of environmental studies, as a midwife, as an ethnobotanist, as a writer, and so much more—is marked by a boundless curiosity. “I have lots of interests,” she explains in a recent webinar. “And I’ve tried to pursue them all with enough depth that, the ones that I’m in the most often, I can feel comfortable translating between different disciplines.”

Straight No Chaser

Shay Bouley

In 2003 Shay Stewart-Bouley began to write a newspaper column tackling issues from motherhood to diversity and race. This experience inspired her to start the blog Black Girl In Maine, which today publishes multiple writers as Black Girl in Maine Media. Finding one’s voice is a common challenge for writers. It takes time. But from the beginning Stewart-Bouley’s voice in both her writing and her public speaking has been nothing but authentic. It is the self-assured, confident voice of someone certain of her mission.

Sharing Culture and Changing Narratives with Afro-Fusion

Culture and changing narratives, photo of individual

When Patience Ncube, a Zimbabwe-born entrepreneur, talks about what drives her, she always comes back to four basic principles: community, service, food, and culture. For Ncube, owning and operating the first African food delivery and catering service and staging Afro-Fusion pop-ups in Santa Barbara is all about building community and sharing her culture…