Climate Stories | Carl Clements and Jason Davis (Music) 

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) 

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)

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) 

Program Partners: The Center for Humanistic Inquiry

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. 

Roundtables on Inclusivity in Choirs | Arianne Abela (Music) 

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)

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) 

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.


Founding Narratives | Lisa Crossman (Mead)

Program Partners: Architectural Studies, Art and the History of Art, European Studies, History, Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies, American Studies 

The Founding Narratives Exhibition at the Mead Art Museum presents artwork produced in the United States between 1800 and today that offer opportunities to consider the role of art in creating, reinforcing, and challenging stories about national identity. Drawn entirely from the Mead Art Museum’s extensive collection of American art, the exhibition raises questions about representation and the absence of representation in national narratives and in the establishment of a national art, about the significance of “firsts,” and about the interpretative frameworks that museums offer about artists and artworks.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Arts at Amherst Initiative funded the creation of a pre-recorded artist interview with Los Angeles based painter, June Edmonds. Edmonds’s Convictions VI from her Flag series was acquired in 2020 and is featured in the Founding Narratives exhibition on view now at the Mead. Convictions VI is an abstract representation of the US flag that invites reflection on the traditional flat's varying symbolism within Black America, historically and today. Her painting is composed of colors based on brown skin tones that call for a new, more inclusive reading of Americanness that breaks from the use of the American flag, in Edmonds's words, as a "tool of violent exclusion" by White supremacists.

The artist video, which includes conversations about Convictions VI and other exhibition works, as well as a Q&A, served as a resource for multiple Amherst College courses including Nicola Courtwright’s Encounters with Nature; Jen Manion’s Race, Gender, and Sexuality in U.S. History; Jennifer A. Hamilton’s Indigenous Feminisms.

Art with Impact | Lauren Kelly (Health Education)

Program Partners: Sexual Respect Education, Mental Health Promotion, Amherst Counseling Center

On Wednesday, November 11th, the Department of Health Education and the Counseling Center co-hosted the virtual workshop, Art with Impact. The event focused on exploring the mental health impacts that sexual violence can have on individuals and communities through a series of short films as a tool to build empathy and support survivors. The event connected students with campus and community mental health and sexual violence-oriented resources available to them, empowering them to seek support as individuals and communities to heal from sexual violence. 

Dye Workshop | Kaylee Brow (Book and Plow Farm)

Program Partners: Student Activities

In the fall of 2020, Assistant Farm Manager, Kaylee Brow, led students in a two-part workshop on textiles and natural dyes. Brow, who has been “natural dyeing almost as long as she’s been farming”, hosted the hands-on workshops outside on Book and Plow Farm. The workshops provided on-campus students with a much needed outlet to gather and socialize while participating in a cross-disciplinary art-making event.

In the first workshop, students used farm-grown indigo to dye t-shirts with nothing more than elbow grease and water. In the second workshop, students learned the basics of brewing a dye pot and explored different resist methods to create their own unique t-shirt. Throughout both workshops, Kaylee led students through a conversation about the environmental impact of fast fashion and chemical dyes as well as the history of natural dyes and textile work in general.

While over 50 students registered for the workshops within 24 hours of advertising, only 26 were able to attend due to social-distancing protocol. The success and popularity of the fall workshops led Brow to expand this partnership between Book and Plow Farm, Student Activities, and the Arts at Amherst Initiative, and create a 10-part spring dye workshop series.

Arabic II Collage Project | May George (Asian Languages & Civilizations)

Program Partners: Smith College Department of Arabic

For their final project of the semester, the nine students in May George’s second year Arabic course were asked to create a collage that demonstrated the knowledge and vocabulary they gained over the semester. To support the art-centered final project, the Arts at Amherst provided funding for the purchase and mailing of art supplies to all students. The collage project, which asked students to imagine the colors, furniture, and setting of an antiquated apartment, included an oral presentation of the final artwork.

Artist Talk with Heather Agyepong | Emily Potter-Ndiaye (Mead Art Museum)

Program Partners: Sexuality Women’s and Gender Studies

After Heather Agyepong’s spring 2020 artist residency at the Mead was cancelled due to COVID-19, the Mead partnered with Amherst College Professor of Sexuality, Women’s & Gender Studies, Aneeka Henderson, to put on a virtual artist talk in October 2020. Heather Agyepong is a visual artist, performer/actor and maker, who lives and works in London. In her work, Agyepong embodies black women from history and presents their lives and experiences anew.

Agyepong’s photography has been on view at the Mead since the spring of 2020 as part of the Mead's second installation of recently acquired contemporary art. Her photograph series, “Too Many Blackamoors, #1-9” is featured in the exhibition Starting Something New Part Two. The photographs are based on Agyepong’s “personal experiences as a young Black woman, dealing with macro and micro traumas with racism encountered while traveling around European countries.”

The recording of Agyepong’s artist talk and the virtual tour of the exhibition, Starting Something New Part Two, are both available on the Mead Art Museum’s website and will continue to be accessible beyond the end of the in-person exhibition.

4th Annual Black Art Matters Festival | Olivia Feal (Mead Art Museum) 

Program Partners: Black Student Union, MRC

The Black Art Matters Festival is an affirmation and celebration of Black student artists and creators. The Festival was founded by Zoe Akoto ‘21 when, as a freshman, she noticed that the creative work of Black students was rarely seen on campus. She designed the festival to highlight work by those artists.

This year, the Black Art Matters Festival had both virtual and in-person components. The online festival was emceed live from the Rotherwas Room and showcased the work of 14 student artists. The live event was attended by over 110 audience members including current Amherst College faculty, staff and students as well as alumni, parents and friends.

In addition to the live show, the Black Art Matters Festival included two exhibitions at the Mead: the Visual Arts Showcase of Student Art, and The Living Room. The Living Room exhibition was the first-ever exhibition of artworks from the Mead’s Permanent Collection created solely by Black artists. The exhibition was curated by Amherst College senior and Advanced Student Museum Educator, DeLyna Hadgu ‘21.

This was the Arts at Amherst Initiative’s second year providing funding support for the festival. WIth support from AAI, the Mead developed a Matterport Virtual exhibition of DeLyna Hadgu’s The Living Room and purchased copies of Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham’s artbook, Black Futures, which were distributed to BAM festival artists. Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham spoke at the Smith College Museum of Art just three days before the Amherst College Black Art Matters Festival and the event was attended by many of the BAM festival artists. This collaboration of Black Art programs designed by students across campuses in the time of COVID, is a marker of how impactful the BAM festival is to both the Amherst and Five College Communities.

Spring Dye Workshops | Kaylee Brow (Facilities) 

Program Partners: Student Activities, Book and Plow Farm

Building off of the success of the fall 2020 dye workshops, the Arts at Amherst Initiative was thrilled to provide funding support for the expanded Spring Dye Workshops at Book and Plow Farm. Fiber artist and campus farmer, Kaylee Brow, expanded the workshop to include the opportunity for participation by remote students.

In each session, five on-campus students were paired with five off-campus students who instructed the in-person participants in the resist techniques and color dyes they wanted used on their shirts, which were later mailed to the off=campus students. This partnership between on and off-campus students fostered a much needed sense of togetherness.

In addition to the hands-on dyeing component of the program, Kaylee led students through cross-disciplinary conversations about color, fast fashion, and the environment. Through thinking about their experiences with color and the physical world they inhabit, the workshop enabled students to connect to their own memories and each other. By engaging students in the process of transforming plants (often common weeds, flowers, and vegetables) to reveal the hidden colors they possess, the workshop encouraged students to interact with the natural world in a different way. These workshops provided a chance for students to root themselves in the physical environment of the Amherst campus while discussing the environmental impact of fast fashion to the history of certain dye plants.

Roundtables on Inclusivity in Choirs | Jxhn Martin (Queer Resource Center) 

Program Partners: Amherst College Choral Society, Music Department, Resource Center Teams, ODEI

In partnership with the Choral Society, ODEI, and the Arts at Amherst Initiative, the QRC presented a series of three roundtable discussion and three workshops that explored how to lead, facilitate, direct, and participate in vocal ensembles that not only center marginalized folks, but actively create and sustain a more affirming ensemble culture. The events, which took place throughout March and April, gave particular attention to the role of ensemble leadership in setting and maintaining affirming practice and culture, and considerations for repertoire, arrangements, and performance. Roundtable speakers included choral conductor and Amherst College alum, Hannah Goodwillie ‘18, returning Kaleidoscope Vocal Ensemble members Dashon Burton and Reggie Mobley as well as new artists such as conductor and composer Erik Peregrine and Sphinx Medal awardee Eugene Rogers. Facilitators from the Resource Centers Team held workshop space correlating to the discussions in each roundtable program for the larger singing community at Amherst (inclusive of the acapella ensembles, and Choral Society members) as well as the Five College choral community.

The Common Spring Launch Party | Jennifer Acker (The Common) 

Program Partners: Creative Writing Center

In partnership with the Creative Writing Center and the Arts at Amherst Initiative, The Common invited writers Aleksander Hemon, Celeste Mohammed, Abdelaziz Errachidi, and translator Nariman Youseff to the participate in the launch of the 21st issue of Amherst College’s award-winning literary magazine, The Common. Issue 21 features art and Arabic fiction in translation from Morocco, as well as short stories, essays, and poetry. The featured writers joined from across the globe for brief readings followed by conversation about place, culture, and translation, hosted by the Common’s editor in chief, Jennifer Acker.

Creative Resilience Workshops | Danielle Amodeo (Mead Art Museum) 

Program Partners: Queer Resource Center, MRC (RCT), Terra Foundation for American Art

The Mead Art Museum, Resource Center Team, and the Arts at Amherst Initiative partnered to present a Creative Resilience Workshop Series facilitated by local artists Chelvanaya "Naya" Gabriel and Mari “Mars” Champagne. The series was part of the Mead’s larger programmatic mission to interrogate “essential work” and how our understanding of this informs broader ideas about labor. The program series serves as practical research towards a larger and longer-term curatorial exploration of the theme of labor.

The Creative Resilience Workshop Series frames antiracism and self-care as essential work and explores the manner in which this kind of labor shows up differently for folks based on the identities they hold. To create space for multiple lived experiences, Naya and Mars facilitated
two workshops. The first workshop, called Essential Work: An Embodied Awareness of White Supremacy was designed for a general audience and the second workshop, called Reclaiming Our Bodies and Minds: Dismantling White Supremacy, was specifically designed for queer and trans people of color in partnership.

Following the workshop series, the Mead’s Curator of American Art and Art of the Americas, Lisa Crossman, conducted research interviews with the artists over Zoom. These interviews, funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art, will be used as research for Crossman’s forthcoming exhibition on the topic of labor so that her thinking and the exhibition will be informed by both the experiences of these local artists and the participants in the workshop series.


Kaleidoscope Vocal Ensemble Residency | Arianne Abela (Music)

Program Partners: The Music Department, Amherst College Choral Society, The Office of Diversity and Inclusion 

The Kaleidoscope Vocal Ensemble, is a new professional, racially-diverse vocal octet, featuring world-class performances that focus primarily on Early Music and New Music founded by Amherst College Choral Society Director, Dr. Arianne Abela. The group joined the Amherst College Concert Choir in their premiere performance this past September.

Before the performance, the Choral Society and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion co-hosted a dinner where the singers met with students to talk about their journeys as people of color in the professional music field. The dinner event allowed students who are not in the choral ensembles an opportunity to talk with the singers candidly and ask questions about their journeys and paths to success. Students got to hear to Kaleidoscope’s members—who together have American, Lebanese, Filipino, Indian, Mexican and bi-racial roots—share everything from coming out stories and journeys from computer science to early music, to the trials of balancing motherhood and a life as a professional classical musician. After their performance at Amherst, the ensemble traveled to New Haven for a concert and workshop with the New Haven Morse Chorale, a performance-intensive choir for New Haven public school students.

Yehimi's Journey | Tenzin Kunor (CDSL)

Program Partners: CDSL, CISE, the Loeb Center

Yehimi’s Journey was a one-hour storytelling event featuring Mexican born activist, educator, and artist, Yehimi Cambrón. Yehimi used her immigration narrative and her art to invite students to think more critically and creatively about art as a tool for activism, storytelling, and entrepreneurship. In the event, Yehimi shared her own experiences being DACAmented, coming of age undocumented, living in a mixed status family, and how she’s used art to reclaim and celebrate the immigrant narrative.

A Reclamation of our Rights by Alan Pelaez Lopez | Jxhn Martin (QRC)

Program Partners: Departments of Spanish, Sociology, and Latinx & Latin American Studies, QRC, WGC, La Causa

Afro-Indigenous poet, collage, installation, and adornment artist Alan Pelaez Lopez delivered his workshop/performance, A Reclamation of our Rights, at the Powerhouse and was also the featured guest in a luncheon and talk at the QRC. A Reclamation of our Rights was a writing workshop that aimed to empower people living at the intersection of multiple oppressions. Participants engaged in a community dialogue about the concept of care, asking questions like: Who are we allowed to care for? Who do you prioritize? Who have you deprioritized? For what reason? And with what intention? Alan’s workshop then allowed students and community members to meditate on identity, care, and their access to political rights through the practice of creative writing.

Sounds of Stonewall | Arianne Abela (Music)

Program Partners: The Mead Art Museum, Amherst College Choral Society, Stonewall Community Choir, QRC, The Stonewall Committee

The Sounds of Stonewall concert was put together to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The concert featured compositions by LGBT composers and included a world premiere by Grey Grant, Mari Ésabel Valverde’s “When the Dust Settles'' (a composition about veteran of the Stonewall Riots Miss Major Griffin-Gracy), and works by Amherst alumni Hannah Goodwillie ‘17 and Theo Peirls ‘20E. Arts Coordinator and Amherst alumna Ellen Mutter ‘18 formed, rehearsed, and conducted the Stonewall Community Choir which highlighted the voices of LGBT singers in Western Mass. Mari and Grey resided at the Arts at Amherst Initiative’s Bailey Brown House in the days leading up to the concert, participated in masterclasses with the Choral Society, and in a Q&A session and lunch at the Queer Resource Center. The free concert took place on Wednesday, November 13th from 8- 9:30pm in the Mead Art Museum. The concert was live-streamed and reached an audience of 80 people. The live event was attended by about 100 and featured about 50 performers. 

Tess Takahasi Film Screening | Josh Guilford (English/FAMS)

Program Partners: Departmetns of Film & Media Studeis and English, Lucian Root Eastman 1895 Fund, and the Corliss Lamont Lectureship for a Peaceful World Fund 

On Wednesday, December 4th, Professor Josh Guilford hosted the Toronto-based film scholar, writer, and programmer, Tess Takahashi, for a public screening of a short film program co-curated by Takahashi and himself, which was screened in the Keefe Campus Center Theater. The program Takahashi and Guilford presented, “Women Filmmakers, Embodiment, and Abstraction (1970-1995),” included eight short avant-garde films created by women filmmakers between 1970-1995, which center on themes of embodiment and abstraction. It highlighted a prevalent, yet under-examined, tension that structures diverse forms of women’s experimental cinema from this period by gathering a range of works that are marked by a complex oscillation between the deployment of abstract images and sounds, and the representation of gendered, raced, and sexualized bodies.

The program featured rarely-screened 16mm films drawn from the collections of three North American distributors of experimental film, Canyon Cinema (San Francisco), the Film-Makers’ Cooperative (New York), and the Canadian Film-Makers’ Distribution Centre (Toronto). The screening was attended by students from Guilford’s class, “ENGL- 481: Conversations with Experimental Filmmakers,” and was also open to the broader film and arts public at Amherst and throughout the area. Takahashi also conducted a class visit with his seminar on Thursday, December 5th, to further discuss the works exhibited on the night of the 4th. After screening in Amherst, the program travelled to the University of Toronto, where it was exhibited to a public audience on December 14th.


Program Partners: Theater & Dance Department, Eastman Lecture Funding, New England Foundation for the Arts Expeditions Grant, CHI, OSL, Northampton Community Arts Trust, The School for Contemporary Dance and Thought, and 33 Hawley St.

The Department of Theater & Dance presented a special showing of CAST, STAGE, AUTHOR by a canary torsi, a project invested in how meaning is created by audiences and performers in real time through the languages of theater: spectacle, casting, scores and scripts. In addition to the performances of CAST and STAGE at Kirby Theater, the installation component of the work, AUTHOR, was presented at The Northampton Community Arts Trust Building. As part of their residency, a canary torsi collaborated with Prof. Yagil Eliraz’s special research course in Casting and Identity Politics. Several of the artists also conducted a masterclass at the School for Contemporary Dance & Thought in Northampton. The work was also presented at five other venues throughout New England during the 2019/20 year.

Galentines Day Broadsides | Jennifer Acker (The Common)

Program Partners: The Common, The Mead Art Museum, Amherst College’s Human Resources Activities Committee, WGC

The Common provided a selection of contemporary literature to complement The Mead’s Galentine’s Day Breakfast--a waffle breakfast and appreciation card-making event to celebrate friendship on campus. The Common designed and printed 50 broadsides featuring a poem and image on the theme of friendship. Attendees were given a broadside to take home or to use as source material when creating their own galentine. This collaboration between the Mead and The Common highlighted the important intersections between the visual and literary arts as creative mechanisms for reflecting upon one’s own experiences while also providing vital opportunities to encounter and engage with new perspectives. These take-home selections of literature connected students and community members with contemporary voices and promoted the literary arts as an avenue for their own creative expression.

Christopher Myers Residency | Emily Potter-Ndiaye (The Mead)

Program Partners: Departments of English, Black Studies, Theater & Dance, and SWAGS, MRC, WGC, The Common, The Mead Art Museum, The Eric Carle Museum

The Mead hosted contemporary artist Christopher Myers to campus for a two-day residency in which he participated in a luncheon with students in the Multicultural Resource Center, delivered an artist talk, and facilitated an art and writing workshop. Myers’ work engages classics from English literature and visual reference points in the Mead's Rotherwas Room in a reinterpretation of familiar histories from postcolonial perspectives. At his luncheon in the MRC, Myers answered questions about his work in the fields of contemporary art and publishing and about how his identity impacts the work he does. In his artist talk, Myers discussed his latest installation, "May the Red Plague Rid You for Learning Me Your Language," in which he revisits Shakespeare’s The Tempest and represents the characters Prospero, Ariel, and Caliban through the lens of colonization. Following the talk, the Mead hosted a reception for faculty and staff to spend time with Myers and ask further questions about his work. On the final day of his residency, the Mead hosted a reading and book signing with Myers, designed with Mead student museum educators to reach both campus students and employees and area youth programs. After the signing, The Mead offered a mini-community day with art and writing centered activities for folks to participate in.

75 Dollar Bill | Carol Keller (ATHA)

Program Partners: The Department of Art & the History of Art, Eastman Lecture Funds

75 Dollar Bill is a NYC based jazz duo made up of percussionist Rick Brown and guitarist Che Chen. The duo is known for their electric, richly patterned music, which can shape shift from joyful dance turns to slowly changing trance minimalism. Their sound draws on the modal traditions of West Africa, India, and the Middle East, early electric blues, Sun Ra’s space chords and the minimalist and No Wave histories of their hometown. Brown and Chen met with students in Prof. Carol Keller’s course, “Improvising the Space Between: Drawing, Architecture, and Sculpture,” to talk with visual arts students about improvisation as a path for structure in the discipline of music, and about collaborative and meditative engagement as goals for that music, before performing together in the Powerhouse.

Remote Programming

Heather Agyepong Residency | Emily Potter-Ndiaye (The Mead)

Program Partners: The Mead Art Museum, The Departments of Black Studies, English, Theater & Dance, and SWAGS, WGC

Heather Agyepong is a visual artist, performer/actor and maker, who lives and works in London. Her work is concerned with mental health and wellbeing, activism, invisibility, the diaspora and the archive. Her two-day residency was designed to encourage participation in the arts from across disciplines. In tandem with the Mead's Rotherwas Project with Christopher Myers, also sponsored by AAI, Ageypong’s performance and subsequent conversations were designed to spark conversations about the roles visual art and performance play in (re)shaping historical narratives. In her work, Agyepong embodies black women from history and presents their lives and experiences anew. Agyepong’s photography was on view at the Mead in the spring semester as part of the Mead's second installation of recently acquired contemporary art. It is currently on view through the Mead’s virtual exhibitions.

Accent: Politics, Technologies, Desires, guest Naomi Waltham-Smith | Pooja G. Rangan (English)

Program Partners: The Language & Literature Fund, the Office of the Provost & Dean, the English Department

Accent: Politics, Technologies, Desires, was a conference that aimed to consider the political and libidinal economies of accent, understood as an embodied practice of mediating lingual difference, from a broad and interdisciplinary perspective. The Arts at Amherst Initiative provided support for the participation of London-based scholar and artist Naomi Waltham-Smith in the conference. Waltham-Smith works at the intersection between sound studies and modern European philosophy, and in both her writing and art explores how aurality is imbricated in some of the most significant and urgent political issues in contemporary neoliberalism, including the impact of digital political economies on listening practices and the transforming conditions of vocality amid the crisis of political representation we are witnessing today.

To Know the Path | Arianne Abela (Music)

Program Partners: Amherst College Choral Society, ODI

Working together with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Amherst College Choral Society was planning to present, To Know the Path, a performance of music surrounding the subject of immigration and refugees on Saturday, April 25th. The concert was to feature music by immigrants as well as the premiere of a newly commissioned work about immigration, To Know the Path, by Linda Kachelmeier. While COVID-19 forced the concert to be pushed to a later date, Choral Director Dr. Arianne Ablea was able to transition some of project online, and used the support of the Arts at Amherst Initiative to fund Zoom conversations with the composers Linda Kachelmeier, Saunder Choi, and Sydney Guillaume. These Zoom calls provided students with the opportunity to speak with the composers whose works they had been singing all year, and to ask questions about everything from compositional technique to poetic interpretation.

Alumni in the Arts Reception | Emily Potter Ndiaye (The Mead)

Program Partners: Mead Art Museum 

The Alumni in the Arts reception was designed by the Mead Art Museum to bring together alumni and faculty from across disciplines in the arts. When the campus closed earlier this spring due to COVID-19, the Mead pivoted this in-person program to an online platform. The new program was centered on the creation of a virtual tour of the Mead Art Museum. The Mead piloted their first virtual tour of an exhibition, the studentcurated "Embodied Taste," earlier this year, and is now using Arts at Amherst Initiative funding to create three additional immersive virtual tours of other exhibitions. These virtual tours, contracted through the local company, Tourit, will enable the Mead share both physical object and digital exhibition content, as well as live guided tours via Zoom. One of these virtual exhibitions, "Starting Something New," features the work of Heather Agyepong, an artist whose AAI supported residency at the Mead was delayed due to the campus closure. Her work, along with the other pieces that would have been on display during the Alumni in the Arts reception, will now be available for view to the broad online audience of Amherst College community members.