Fall Funded Programs

Climate Stories | Carl Clements and Jason Davis, Music

Additional Program Partners: Hitchcock Center for the Environment, Environmental Studies Department

Amherst College music professor Carl Clements and director of Climate Stories Project Jason Davis connected with members of the Amherst College community to share personal stories about climate change, including observations of extreme weather, emotional responses, and convictions to forge a positive future. Professors Clements and Davis composed and recorded original music which integrates samples from these recorded "climate stories."

Listen to the Climate Stories compositions here.

At the Purchaser's Option | Sarah Briggs, Music

Additional Program Partners: History Department

With funding support from the Arts at Amherst Initiative, the Wistaria String Quartet performed “At the Purchaser’s Option” by Rhiannon Giddens for Professor Herbin-Triant’s “Slavery in US History and Culture” BLST-220/HIST-220 course. “Last year I came across an advertisement from the 1830s for a young woman," Giddens says of the new song. “Thinking about her, and how she had to maintain her humanity against horrific odds inspired this song named for the end of the ad: She has with her a 9-month old baby, who is at the purchaser's option.”

Elizabeth James Perry Artist Workshops and Exhibit | Lisa Brooks, English and American Studies

Additional Program Partners: Mead Art Museum, Five College NAIS program

Aquinnah Wampanoag artist Elizabeth James Perry was artist-in-residence at Amherst College for the academic year, supported by a Mellon Foundation/Five Colleges Native American and Indigenous Studies mini-grant. Elizabeth offered workshops for Amherst and Five College students, including a plant dye workshop, a corn husk bag demonstration and a wampum demonstration. Elizabeth created artwork for an exhibit at the Mead Museum, which the Mead Museum hosted in Spring 2022. Elizabeth visited several classes, led plant walks, discussed traditional ecological knowledge and artistic traditions, and demonstrated beading and painting techniques. This was a collaboration among faculty in the Five Colleges throughout the academic year.

Writing from the Arabian Gulf: Launch of The Common's 22nd issue | Jennifer Acker, The Common

Additional Program Partners: The CHI

Writing from the Arabian Gulf: Launch of The Common’s 22nd issue, featuring a portfolio from the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar. Featured authors provided brief readings of their work and a conversation about the realities of life in the Gulf for a diverse range of residents, from citizens to the stateless. This event was held in partnership with the Center for Humanistic Inquiry.

Spring Funded Programs

Roundtables on Inclusivity in Choirs | Arianne Abela, Music

Additional Program Partners: Amherst College Choral Society

Over the semester, students in the Choral Society collaborated with Brandon Waddles, and Filipino composers Eudenice Palaruan and Saunder Choi on three commissions of new music. The first piece by Eudenice Palaruan was a virtual performance by the Amherst choirs and the University of the Philippines Glee Club as a response to the pandemic. On February 28, the composer discussed his piece, the text, and process, and Choral Society was joined on this zoom by members of the University of the Philippines Glee Club. The final release of the virtual performance by Amherst and the University of the Philippines Glee Club was in May. The piece is about "togetherness while apart," a direct response to the struggle of singing choral music during the pandemic, and an opportunity to connect across continents musically with the shifting technology in our world. Choral Society also commissioned Brandon Waddles and Saunder Choi to write for the choral program. Brandon helped students learn more about the traditions of spirituals and arrangements in his piece “He's got the whole world in his hands,” a choral arrangement of a few spirituals in one, and Saunder’s “Can you hear me?” served as a reflection of the world's inability to listen to others who are different. All three composers interacted with the choir virtually over zoom in workshops. Eudenice and Saunder are both Filipino composers who offered insight on Filipino culture and choral trends.

5th Annual Black Art Matters Festival | Danielle Amodeo, Mead Art Museum

Additional Program Partners: Multicultural Resource Center, Student Activities, Amherst Association of Students, Frost Library, the Common, Black Student Union, African and Caribbean Student Union, Communications, Alumni & Parent Programs, the Loeb Center

The Fifth Annual Black Art Matters (BAM) Festival took place on March 24, 2022 from 7-9pm at the Mead Art Museum. BAM is a festival featuring live music, dance, and literary performances, alongside a visual art exhibition designed to highlight the creativity of Black Amherst College students. The Festival was founded in 2018 by Amherst College alum Zoe Akoto, and continues as a partnership between the Mead Art Museum and MRC. This year, BAM expanded to include a partnership with Frost Library and The Common. In addition to the exhibition and live festival components at the Mead, the event featured a special edition broadside compiled by Black student editors at the Common and a literary exhibition at Finding the Words Gallery on the second floor of Frost Library. Frost Librarians set book displays and a historical display in the common areas of the library to honor the history of this festival. BAM is a collaborative multi-disciplinary arts festival. By presenting literary, musical, performance, dance, spoken word, and visual art works by Black student creators, BAM celebrates and affirms the creative practices the Amherst College community cultivates both inside and outside of the classroom. The BAM planning team welcomed all students, faculty, and staff to be a part of the planning process and actively designed the program to model cross-disciplinary collaboration and welcome in-person participation from students, faculty, and staff at the Festival. This was the Arts at Amherst Initiative’s third year providing funding support for the festival.

Collecting 01: Acquiring Art and Building Community | Miloslava Hruba, Mead Art Museum

Additional Program Partners: Amherst College Athletics

This spring, Mead Art Museum and Amherst College Athletics teamed up to offer a cohort based art acquisition program to a group of dedicated scholar athletes. Over the course of 2 months, the group got to know the museum, its art collection, and each other better, and worked together to bring the larger campus community into the room to help purchase a work of art for the museum. The student cohort considered a short list of possible artworks for acquisition, conducted additional research to understand each artist’s process, practice, and how the various artworks would expand and deepen the Mead’s mission and impact on campus and beyond. The time at the Mead set the stage for a cohort trip to NYC to visit galleries, artist and printmaking studios, and museums. The project culminated in a public presentation on April 3 where a group of students made formal proposals in favor of the works of art they wanted to see the Mead acquire.

The Common Spring Launch Party | Jennifer Acker, The Common

Amherst College's award-winning literary magazine The Common celebrated the release of Issue 23 with authors from around the world. Writers Fernando Flores, Tina Cane, Eyad Barguthy, and translator Nashwa Gowanlock gave brief readings followed by conversations about place, culture, and translation, hosted by the magazine's editor in chief Jennifer Acker.

Eyad Barguthy is a Palestinian writer, translator, and literary editor from Nazareth who lives in Acre. He studied sociology, anthropology and political science at Tel Aviv University. He also worked as director of the Arab Culture Association in Haifa for several years, and editor of the weekly newspaper Fasl al-Maqal. He has published several publications and literary contributions, most notably the novel Bardaqana and two short story collections: Maturity and Between the Houses. In 2008, he received the Young Writer Award from the Abdul Mohsin Al-Qattan Foundation. Since 2018, Eyad has been translating, editing, and preparing a collection of children's books.

Tina Cane serves as the Poet Laureate of Rhode Island, where she is the founder and director of Writers-in-the-Schools, RI. Cane is the author of The Fifth Thought, Dear Elena: Letters for Elena Ferrante, Once More With Feeling, and Body of Work. She was a 2020 Poet Laureate Fellow with the Academy of American Poets and is the creator/curator of the distance reading series, Poetry is Bread. Her new collection, Year of the Murder Hornet, is forthcoming from Veliz Books, and her novel-in-verse for young adults, Alma Presses Play, was released in September 2021.

Fernando A. Flores was born in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and grew up in South Texas. He is the author of the collection Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas and the novel Tears of the Trufflepig, which was long-listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and named a best book of 2019 by Tor.com. His fiction has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly, American Short Fiction, Ploughshares, Frieze, Porter House Review, and elsewhere. His collection of stories, Valleyesque, was released in May 2022.