The Colored Museum: Past, Present, Future Artists
THOMAS “KWEST” BURNS
Thomas “Kwest” Burns is a painter born and raised in Boston with roots in Graffiti and Hip Hop culture. HIs work conveys a variety of socially relevant themes, including commentary on urban life, politics and culture. He began drawing and painting out of a passion to express his ideas and visions. . Motivated by themes such as love, oppression, freedom and cultural heritage, Kwest works primarily with acrylic paint oil, spray paint, and pastels. Kwest has created murals throughout the city of Boston, in Weston and Lincoln Sudbury public schools and for the Department of Education in Malden. He presently works as a freelance artist doing live painting and creating murals for youth programs and schools. His goal is to continue to elevate, improvise, educate, and process experiences while enhancing his skills as an artist.
CEDRIC VISE1 DOUGLAS
Cedric “Vise1” Douglas was born in 1977 in Boston, Massachusetts. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2011. He currently resides in Quincy Massachusetts, and his studio is in Abington Massachusetts. At an early age, Cedric Douglas's first experience with public art was writing his name creatively on abandoned spaces, in Boston, Quincy, and surrounding New England areas. In the early 1990s, he went under the alias as “Vise1”. Which was also an acronym for Visually Intercepting Society’s Emotion one image at a time. In 2000, with growth, and college education his work developed more conceptually, and in college, he was heavily influenced by his professor, a world-renowned poster designer, and social activist Chaz Maviyane-Davies. During this development, he felt the need to reach a wider audience with a deeper social message and he felt the need to use his work to engage people in the public space. After college Douglas continued to embrace socially engaged art and design. In 2014 with his partner Julia Roth Ritchie he created The Up Truck, a creative art lab use for community engagement. The Up Truck has engaged over 3000 New England residents in over 12 different communities. He is the Founder and Creative Director of The Up Truck, a mobile art lab designed to engage underserved Boston communities through art and creativity. Douglas' work is admired by a wide range of audiences and organizations which includes colleges and universities, community organizations, and gallery audiences. He is highly recognized for his large-scale murals and portraits, which he calls “Social Realism”. He defines Social Realism as using portraiture and design to express insight into social issues Some of the notable partnerships with brands and organizations include Pepsi, W Hotel Boston, TEDx Springfield. Seawalls, City Of Boston, Harvard University. Douglas's recent public art project, entitled "Street Memorials" is taking a national contemporary view of the killing of black people in our country. The new work is taking a hard look at racial injustice and its deadly impact on the black community, while his recent work is memorializing those from the black community who have been killed by police. These recent works that address the police s use of deadly force are not trying to make judgments but instead, are trying to bring to the surface “that everyone deserves a fair trial and every life has value.” This work also raises bigger questions: How as a community and as fellow Americans can we work to end the use of deadly force by police? How do we all come together to stop institutional racism? How as a nation do we work to ensure that everyone has a fair trial? And how do we learn to see those we label as “others” as our neighbors and members of our communities? Cedric’s newest work provides an opportunity to radically rethink whom we, as a society, are choosing to memorialize in the form of public statues and monuments. His latest project entitled “The People’s Memorial Project” is a campaign to rethink the future of memorials and monuments on the broadest scale. Cedric and his team recently installed a video projection installation in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts on an empty plinth that formerly held a marble statue of Christopher Columbus, which was defaced by protesters and removed by the city. The intent of this project is to create a glimpse into the future, by replacing an antiquated view of history with a vision of tomorrow where all people who have contributed to the growth and prosperity of the local community and the broader nation, are recognized and honored” Douglas's commitment to the arts is exemplified by his volunteer work. He presently sits on the board and is an active member of multiple Boston-based art organizations including, The Celebrity Series, advisory committee, Artweek Boston’s advisory board, and, Mass Creative community engagement advisory committee.
JUSTIN PRINTICE DOUGLASS
The late Justin Printice Douglass was the winner of The Umbrella’s drawing contest at the Concord Prison Farm in 2015. The works featured in the exhibit were drawn while Douglass was incarcerated in the Northeast Correctional Center in Concord and the Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Norfolk. Jerry Wedge, Executive Director of The Umbrella, corresponded with Douglass and received over forty drawings and poems from him while he was incarcerated.
“The Environment I’m in doesn’t really, well it’s not positive,” he said. “One day I will walk into the Umbrella...I just wanna create Art.”
That faith in the future and determination to create is clear in Douglass’s works, which seem to portray the journey of a man finding his humanity. The foreground and background of the drawings blur together, making them easy to get lost in. The viewer can follow a path through each art piece in whichever way catches their eye, finding themes of connection, creation and a higher power.
Douglass was released from prison in April 2019 and passed away in June 2021.
Barrington Edwards has lived and worked in the city of Boston as an artist and community activist for over four decades. He attended Hampton University in Virginia for one year then transferred to the Massachusetts College of Art where he earned both a BFA in Communication Design and a MSAE in Art Education. He has since worked in the worlds of art and design, education and community development. Barrington has worked with organizations in Dorchester and Roxbury for years. Barrington worked as a member of the Visual Arts faculty at the Boston Arts Academy where he taught visual art. In addition to teaching he was given the role of supervising practitioner for the department’s internship program. Working closely with Mass Art and emerging teachers, Barrington was able to continue to learn and reflect on his own practice.
He is a Massachusetts State Universities Educator Alumni Award 2019 winner, a Surdna and an Expressing Boston fellow, a publisher of comics and graphic media and works as a freelance artist and consultant. Barrington is a member of the Boston Comics Roundtable, a co-founder of Comics in Color ( an affinity group for nerds of color enthusiastic about comics and comics culture), active with the Design Studio for Social Intervention and the Black Speculative Arts Movement. He currently teaches Art Education as a visiting professor of art the Massachusetts College of Art and Design where he continues to help develop young teachers. Barrington consistently works to develop his practice as an art maker and social practice developer in concert with his teaching practice. Presently Barrington continues to work as a freelance artist and illustrator for books, theatre productions, films as well as comics and graphic novels. His North Quincy studio space hosts artists in drawing sessions, critiques and presentations as well as serving as a center for his public art practice.
Ifé Franklin has worked as a professional artist and community activist for over 30 years. Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Ifé began her arts education in high school, focusing then on black and white photography. Ifé studied performance art, voice, video production, ceramics, and “The Art of Africa” at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in the late 1980's. It was there that she met her mentor, Master adire artist Mr. Stanley Pinckney. Ifé owns and operates IféArts®. which produces sculpture, installations, drawings, collage, photography, as well as fiber arts. Through Ifé Franklin's Indigo Project, she produces and presents community-based art. Ifé's book The Slave Narrative of Willie Mae was released in the spring of 2018 and has since been donated and received by The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The short film, The Slave Narrative of Willie Mae, premiered on Juneteenth, 2021 at Black Market, Nubian Square, Roxbury, MA. Ifé believes it is her destiny to create and use her voice to convey her passion for the arts and her love for freedom, peace and justice.
NETTRICE R. GASKINS
Dr. Nettrice R. Gaskins is an African American digital artist, academic, cultural critic and advocate of STEAM fields. In her work she explores "techno-vernacular creativity" and Afrofuturism.
Dr. Gaskins teaches, writes, "fabs”, and makes art using algorithms and machine learning. She has taught multimedia, visual art, and computer science with high school students. She earned a BFA in Computer Graphics with Honors from Pratt Institute in 1992 and an MFA in Art and Technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1994. She received a doctorate in Digital Media from Georgia Tech in 2014. Currently, Dr. Gaskins is a 2021 Ford Global Fellow and the assistant director of the Lesley STEAM Learning Lab at Lesley University. Her first full-length book, Techno-Vernacular Creativity and Innovation is available through The MIT Press.
Gaskins served as Board President of the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture (The Alliance) and was on the board of the Community Technology Centers Network (CTCNet). She is currently on the board of Artisan’s Asylum.
My work is very political in content. I try to create art as a form of documenting experiences and realities involving people and mainstream pop culture during times of war and strife in the digital age. I prefer to use a variety of paints/markers and other media combined with text and headlines from a variety of news sources and articles. Hopefully much of the work will be combined/displayed to form a narrative about the African American experience throughout the country’s history. One of the most consistent projects I have been working on since 2003 has been a series of scrolls that I document and record moments in history. I use different media and new sources to write down and illustrate events and political figures involved on the paper. I always include the dates and images that can be found in the associated press and other news sources.
By using rice scrolls I create longstanding timelines about how a government’s war from its inception until its conclusion affects the ideology and lives of the citizens it affects through propaganda and misinformation. The text on the scrolls includes information, commentary and dates that are from around the time the events occur. But it also includes personal musings on events occurring within the United States during the occupation. I often try to create and write narratives to place it all in an historical context. Many of the images on the scrolls are of people who make policy decisions, those who are affected by them, and how it impacts me on a day to day basis.
The series of scrolls I’ve done are based on the traditional Asian techniques used to relate stories. By using Chinese ink, watercolor paint and pencil drawings on many parts I try to archive a visual sense of change depending on the time and situations that occur. The political context of my work has been influenced by diverse people from artists like Sue Coe and Dana Chandler to political writers like James Baldwin and Noam Chomsky. During the pandemic of 2020 I’ve spent much of my time ( in addition to working on the scrolls ) taking a number of headlines and articles in the newspapers and adding them to sketches and drawings I’ve rendered to make collages and archive the headlines that are currently happening. I will also render images of figures from the past that are still relevant to events currently happening. My preference in creating work is to archive people and events during different periods of time in American history. In doing this, I hope to have a narrative/timeline with all of my work that would engage the viewer as a creative and educational tool in learning about different art media and history.
Born in Zimbabwe. Professor Emeritus of Design at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design in Boston where I taught until 2016. For more than three decades my work has taken on issues of consumerism, health, nutrition, social responsibility, the environment, human rights and politics. Education includes an MA in Graphic Design (with distinction) from the Central School of Art and Design in London, and an Advanced Diploma in Postgraduate Filmmaking from the Central St. Martins School of Art and Design London. Also spent a year in Japan studying three-dimensional design and a total of ten months in Malaysia working on various world-reaching design projects for the International Organization of Consumers Unions and JUST World Trust. Design work experience in London includes time with Fulcrum Design, Newell and Sorrell Design Ltd., as well as a stint in the Department of Graphic Design of BBC Television. From 1983 until 2000 I was the principal of The Maviyane- Project, a design studio in Harare. As a result of the social, humane and confrontational nature of my work, I felt compelled to temporarily leave Zimbabwe because of the adverse political climate there. Amongst several awards, in 2003 I was recognized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston with an award for outstanding commitment to the struggle to transform society and create a just future as well as another recognition award from Simmons College, Boston for courage and integrity in stimulating activism for social change. That year I was also Honour laureate at the 13th Colorado International Invitational Poster Exhibition and also gave the prestigious Dwiggins lecture, sponsored by the Society of Printers and the Boston Public Library. In 2004 I became the first recipient of the Anthon Beeke International design award in Amsterdam.
In 2009 I was conferred an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. I was recognized with an AIGA Boston Fellow Award in 2018. My work is included in several international permanent collections in various galleries.
KEITH MORRIS WASHINGTON
Keith Morris Washington is an Associate Professor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in, Boston. He received an MFA in Painting from Tufts University/School of the Museum of Fine Art, Boston, Massachusetts.
His art investigates meaning and metaphor through landscape and portraiture. These landscapes and full-body portraits explore memory, identity and social themes, that are latent and often obscured by visible features, cultural (mis)understanding and time.
Work in this exhibition come from his series "Within Our Gates: Site and Memory in the American Landscape," featuring lynching sites throughout the United States; and "Black Lives..." with larger than life portraits of anonymous people, inspired by the Black Lives Matter and Say Her Name movements.
Learn more at Keithmorriswashington.com