Theaster Gates illuminates the dark history of Maine’s interracial exiles

Posted in Articles, Arts, Europe, History, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2022-03-09 00:12Z by Steven

Theaster Gates illuminates the dark history of Maine’s interracial exiles

Document Journal
2019-03-18

Ann Binlot

For his first solo museum exhibition in France at Palais de Tokyo, Theaster Gates explores America’s dark forgotten past through the interracial exile of Malaga Island.

“Nothing is pure in the end… A sea of wood, An island of debate. Can an exhibition start to shift the negative truths of the history of a place?”

Theaster Gates has exemplified the meaning of social practice in his work, creating new models for building community while bringing awareness to both the historical and present-day struggles of black America. In Amalgam, his first solo museum exhibition in France at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, the Chicago-based artist shed light on Malaga Island, a 41-acre island located at the mouth of the New Meadows River in Casco Bay, Maine. The island was a fishing hamlet, home to an interracial community born out of the Civil War until 1912, when the Maine governor Frederick Plaisted forced its poorest population, a group of about 45 mixed-race individuals, off the island. Some relocated in Maine, while others were involuntarily committed to psychiatric institutions. Ashamed to be associated with the island and the stigma that came with being from there, many of its descendants feared speaking about the incident, which stemmed from racism and classism…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

House Arrest, A Novel (2nd Edition)

Posted in Books, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Novels, Religion, United States on 2021-11-11 21:16Z by Steven

House Arrest, A Novel (2nd Edition)

Red Hen Press
2014-09-01
216 pages
6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-59709-418-4

Ellen Meeropol

Home care nurse Emily Klein usually loves her work. But her new assignment, prenatal visits to a young woman under house arrest for the death of her toddler daughter during a Solstice ceremony, makes her uneasy. Maybe it’s Pippa Glenning’s odd household and the house arrest monitor. Or the court involvement that reminds Emily of her parents’ political activism and her father’s imprisonment. But when she can’t get out of the assignment, Emily is determined to do right by her high-profile and unconventional patient.

Pippa’s racially mixed Family of Isis is in turmoil. Without Tianthe cult leader and Pippa’s lover, who is in jail awaiting trial for the deaths of two toddlers, the group struggles to keep the household and their Tea Room business functioning. If Pippa follows the rules of her house arrest, she may be allowed to keep her baby, but as the pregnant woman in the family it’s her duty to dance for Isis at the upcoming winter Solstice ceremony. To escape the house arrest without being caught, she needs Emily’s help.

Despite their differences, Emily and Pippa’s friendship grows. Emily’s friends, her cousin Anna with whom she lives, Anna’s ex-husband Sam who shares in caring for their young daughter Zoe with spina bifida, her best friend Gina, all warn Emily that Pippa is trouble. When her grandfather dies, Emily reluctantly agrees to accompany Anna to the island in Maine where she was sent to live when her father went to prison. On the island, Emily begins to grapple with her parents? choices a generation earlier.

At home, the media hypes the Frozen Babies Case. Anti-cult sentiment in the city escalates to angry protests and increasing violence. As the winter Solstice approaches, both Emily and Pippa make decisions about their responsibilities to their families, their communities, and to each other– decisions that put their lives, and Pippa’s unborn baby– in jeopardy.

Set in Springfield, Massachusetts and on an island in Penobscot Bay, the story is told from the alternating points of view of Emily, Pippa, Sam, and Gina. House Arrest explores the meaning of family loyalty when beliefs conflict, and questions the necessity of sometimes breaking rules to serve justice.

Tags: , , ,

In Maine, a Hidden History on Malaga Island

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United States on 2019-06-06 17:56Z by Steven

In Maine, a Hidden History on Malaga Island

U.S. News & World Report
2019-06-04

Tamara Kerrill Field, Contributor


People gather to eat during an event at Malaga Island Preserve. Throughout the island, cutouts were erected to evoke the black and mixed-race islanders that were kicked off their settlement in the early 1900s.
(Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald/Getty Images)

An isolated pocket of African American families flourished for a time in Maine, and now their descendants are discovering their past.

PHIPPSBURG, Maine — If it was a sunny day, perhaps a Sunday, Mainers with enough money to buy or rent a boat would cruise by Malaga Island for a peak at the curious inhabitants. It was the beginning of the 20th century, a time of unquestioned racial separation. But here on the little Casco Bay island was a true oddity: blacks, whites and mixed-race people lived together in a cooperative community.

On an average day – according to information gleaned from photographs, excavations and oral tradition – children of every shade played together, men hand fished for cod and women sat with one another, chatting outside the clapboard houses. The gapers bobbing in the bay had almost certainly heard talk of stranger things: rumors of “mentally retarded” mixed-race inhabitants, whisperings that Malaga children had horns and burrowed in tunnels. It was said ashore in Phippsburg that islanders were immoral and savage, that they ate their food uncooked and bore the telltale signs of syphilis.

To this day, in the Casco Bay region, the term “Malagite” is considered a racial slur on a par with the n-word. Descendants of the islanders kept their history secret rather than be associated with both the ugly rumors and the ugly truths about Malaga, truths like the institutionalization of mixed race islanders – considered by the proponents of eugenics to be intellectually and morally defective – at the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded where they were classified as “imbeciles” or “morons.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Theaster Gates on how his new show was inspired by the eviction of 45 people from an island in Maine

Posted in Arts, Europe, History, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-02-11 01:14Z by Steven

Theaster Gates on how his new show was inspired by the eviction of 45 people from an island in Maine

The Art Newspaper
2019-02-01

Anna Swansom

Theaster Gates
Theaster Gates ©Theaster Gates; Photo: Julian Salinas

The Chicago-based artist’s exhibition in Paris examines the forced removal in 1911 of the inhabitants of Malaga Island

The US artist Theaster Gates has taken the eviction of a mixed-race community from a small island in Maine as the starting point for his first solo exhibition in France, opening this month at the Palais de Tokyo. In 1912, 45 people from Malaga Island were evicted by the state authorities and eight of them were committed to the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded following the state’s purchase of the island in 1911. The island, a poor fishing village of black, white and mixed-race people, was ridiculed in a Maine newspaper as a “strange community” of “peculiar people”; its eviction has recently been described by a US documentary as having been motivated by economics, racism, eugenics and political retribution.

Through new works including sculptures, a film and a video, the Chicago-based artist has developed the wide-ranging project and exhibition, Amalgam, which explores the complexity of interraciality and migratory histories. The show has been organised by Katell Jaffrès and has received support from Regen Projects, Richard Gray Gallery and White Cube.

The Art Newspaper: How did you become interested in the history of Malaga Island and how did this lead to Amalgam?

Theaster Gates: I had started a residency in 2017 at Colby College in Maine and was visiting a friend who said there was this important, not well-known history about this island that used to have black and mixed-race people that were evicted. We were in a boat and he suggested having lobsters on the adjacent island before checking it out. So I learned of it quite leisurely and then started to do research.

The idea of interracial mixing led to the creation of a sculptural form, “amalgam”: a by-product of what happens when one artistic form from history meets another one to create a new kind of work. I wanted to create a bridge that would make people more curious about this island and for people who are of mixed race and from backgrounds where their parents are of different religions, I wanted Malaga to be a place where all mixes felt that they had a home. The beauty of mixing is one of the cornerstones of the exhibition…

Read the interview article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Art Presentation and Discussion on Creative Practices

Posted in Arts, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2017-04-25 03:06Z by Steven

Art Presentation and Discussion on Creative Practices

University of Maine Museum of Art
40 Harlow Street
Bangor, Maine 04401
Wednesday, 2017-04-26 @13:00-14:00 EDT (Local Time)

On Wednesday, April 26 at 1 p.m., University of Maine Intermedia MFA students Alicia Champlin and Eleanor Kipping will present their work and discuss creative practices at University of Maine Museum of Art.

Admission is free. Audiences are welcome to bring their own lunch.

Alicia Champlin will discuss her recent performance installation, “MOTIVE,” in the context of a research-based experimental practice. The performance, which took place in December 2016, was intended to spark questions about the relationships between media and maker, between language and listener, and between truth and metaphor. Instead, like many experiments, the work led to some unexpected outcomes, but rather than discounting the effort as a failure, Alicia will share some of the resulting insights that continue to move her practice forward into the unknown.

Eleanor Kipping is a second year MFA student. Her work explores the contemporary black female experience as ‘other’ in America in light of identity, hair politics, colorism and racial passing. She draws heavily on popular culture, and personal, historical and political narratives to drive her investigations. In her talk Coming of Race, Eleanor will share her experiences as a mixed-race female growing up in the predominantly Caucasian state of Maine. While sharing how she has come to terms with her own identity as a black and white woman, she will discuss how her creative practice and use of photography, video, performance, and installation is used as a way to continue her own explorations as well as educate and facilitate discussion surrounding topics of identity…

The Intermedia MFA program is a creative studio-centered degree on the hybrid nature of contemporary art. The MFA focuses on the intersection of creative practice arts with other disciplines and areas of interest, technology, and social praxis to model a new direction and approach to teaching and learning in the creative fields. For more information, visit www.intermediamfa.org.

For more information, click here.

Tags: , , , ,

Public Radio Reporter Seeking Couples In New England For Story On Interracial/Mixed Marriage.

Posted in Autobiography, Media Archive, United States, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2017-02-20 02:17Z by Steven

Public Radio Reporter Seeking Couples In New England For Story On Interracial/Mixed Marriage.

WGBH Radio
Boston, Massachusetts
2017-01-30

Sally Jacobs

My name is Sally Jacobs and I am a reporter doing a project for WGBH radio in Boston on interracial marriage in connection with the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing the practice. I am looking for couples in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) who have a compelling story of challenge, triumph, passion, hardship or adventure.

I am also looking for some particular experiences:

  • Interracial couples who divorced in the mid 1980s.
  • Couples who married before interracial marriage became legal in 1967.
  • Young/millennial couples who met on an interracial dating website.
  • Those with a compelling story from any time period.

If you live in any of the six New England states, please e-mail me a description of your story, long or short, at sallyhjacobs@gmail.com.

Many thanks.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Don’t portray this state I love as a hotbed of racial discontent

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-24 15:01Z by Steven

Don’t portray this state I love as a hotbed of racial discontent

The Bangor Daily News
Bangor, Maine
2015-04-20

Trish Callahan, Special to the BDN

When I played high school basketball, we travelled up to The County to play a couple times. Because of the distance we would stay with host families, and we attended social events. Even though I had to be one of the only dark-skinned people to cross the threshold of some of those doors in the mid-1980s, I was treated like all the other players.

I did foul out of every game I played up there. My father and I would bet on whether I’d foul out in the end of the third or beginning of the fourth quarter. In the referee’s defense, we did play a more physical game than was the norm for girl’s ball, myself especially, so there’s no evidence that fouling out was race-related.

And that about sums up my experience as a mixed-race person in Maine since 1973: At the worst I might sense some slight surprise at the sight of someone different, but most Mainers treat me just fine.

Mainers are so polite; I can tell the ones who show that slight surprise are uncomfortable with their own reaction. I usually throw down a gentle good-natured poke at the whole race thing, and the discomfort becomes laughter. I like that about Mainers, and I don’t want that to change in light of the current and necessary discussion about race in our state and across the nation.

I also don’t want Mainers portrayed as racist because that just hasn’t been the majority of my experience. While I appreciate the sentiments of the protesters in Portland, I kind of resent the fervor reaching such a pitch that people outside our state might perceive Maine as some racial hotbed…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

Only history maligns Malaga Island

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United States on 2014-11-09 22:33Z by Steven

Only history maligns Malaga Island

The Portland Press Herald
Portland, Maine
2014-10-26

Dierdre Fleming, Outdoor Reporter

The Casco Bay island’s future needn’t be lost in a painful past marked by intolerance.

MALAGA ISLAND — The tragic story of Malaga Island has been told many times since the tiny isle off Phippsburg was sold in 2001 to the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and archaeologists began to unearth the remains of its disenfranchised community.

But there’s still much pain for the descendants of Malaga Island, despite the fact this wild, pristine island in the Gulf of Maine is now visited by boaters and coastal hikers.

“I hope as time goes on it becomes easier for people to talk about, because the island as a physical place does carry a lot of significance to the descendants,” said Kate McMahon, a doctoral student at Howard University, who gives historic tours on the island for the Heritage Trust.

“It’s really important to them. It’s important to them that the kiosk on the island … presents the history of the island in a respectful way, because it’s a living memorial to them. It’s the only thing they have left of the people that lived here.”

During the mid-1860s a small, racially diverse community inhabited the north end of the island to fish and eke out a living as many coastal communities did back then. The community grew to 40 islanders by the early 20th century.

In 1912 the state, in the interest of growing tourism along the coast, evicted the residents, who included black, white and interracial families. In addition, relatives buried on the island were exhumed and re-interred at the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded, now the site of Pineland Farms. Another eight residents were institutionalized there against their will.

A century later, in 2010, a ceremony was held on the island at which Gov. John Baldacci publicly apologized for his predecessors’ decision in 1912…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

‘Chinese, on the Inside’

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2014-03-05 01:44Z by Steven

‘Chinese, on the Inside’

The New York Times
2014-03-03

Liz Mak, writer and multimedia producer
Oakland, California

Catie and Kimberly were adopted from China by a couple from Maine, who attempt to pass on a culture they’ve never known firsthand.

About a decade ago, Barbara Cough adopted two girls from China, Kimberly and Catie. Barbara and her partner, Marilyn Thomas, are raising the children in Portland, Me. I filmed the family last year when the girls (who are not biological sisters) were ages 9 and 11.

More than 80,000 girls have been adopted from China by Americans since 1991. In recent years, China has made adoptions by same-sex couples, already difficult, nearly impossible.

But at the time the girls were adopted, in 2003 and 2004, Barbara and Marilyn felt that adopting girls from China afforded them more protections as parents than domestic adoptions would have, given the complex rules around birth parents’ rights in America.

For Barbara, it was also a way to reconnect with her own history: her great-grandfather Daniel Cough was the first Chinese man in Maine to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. Though Barbara’s generation is only one-eighth Chinese, the family members proudly identify with their cultural heritage…

Read the opinion piece and watch the video here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Tough lessons in CTC’s play about community destruction

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, History, Media Archive, United States on 2012-03-16 01:13Z by Steven

Tough lessons in CTC’s play about community destruction

MPR News
Minnesota Public Radio
2012-03-15

Nikki Tundel, Reporter

St. Paul, Minn. — A century-old story of discrimination is the basis for a world premiere production opening Friday in Minneapolis.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy” is the Children’s Theatre Company’s adaption of the real-life events of a forbidden friendship during the social segregation of 1912.

It’s a dark tale. But it’s one the theater company believes should be shared – especially with school children.

Actress Traci Allen was a bit wary when she first heard of Minnesota’s Children’s Theatre Company.

“I’m thinking of puppets and, ‘Hello, boys and girls,'” Allen pantomimed before a recent rehearsal.

Her preconceived notion didn’t last long. Today, she is the lead in the CTC’s “Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy.” The children’s play wrestles with various adult themes, from economic turmoil to mortality.

Twenty-six-year-old Allen plays 13-year-old Lizzie. When afternoon rehearsal begins, she’s mourning the death of her grandfather in a song.

The story chronicles the forbidden friendship between Lizzie, who is black, and Turner Buckminster, who is white. It highlights the challenges they face in socially segregated 1912.

“Is there transition music there?” asks CTC artist director Peter Brosius, who directs the play.

The production is based on a Newbery Award-winning book [by Gary D. Schmidt], which in turn is based on the real-life history of Phippsburg, Maine. When the small coastal town was hit by an economic downtown, community leaders looked to the nearby island of Malaga to solve their financial woes.

“The idea,” said Brosius, “Was that the population that was on Malaga, which was a black and mixed-race population, should be removed from that island and that both the coastline and Malaga be turned into a resort. What happened, in fact, was the island was evacuated, people’s homes were moved.”…

Read the entire article and listen to the audio here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,