About the Black Artists of Boston Project

The Black Artists of Boston Project began as a collaborative endeavor between a graduate class at Northeastern University, a local performance artist Dzidzor Azaglo, and a group of community elders, who as artists, have been working in and around Boston for over thirty years. Professors Lee and Nieves were tasked with creating a new oral history and ethnography course for graduate students in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities (CSSH) that would develop their skills in the craft of ethnography while also training them to integrate community members and values into their work.



The Office of Community Engagement, with the help of Ms. Chelsea Lauder, identified a project partner, Ms. Dzidzor Azaglo as someone who could connect the class to a vibrant group of local artists and support a project that centered the contributions of these artists to the Boston arts scene, as well as nationally and internationally. The course became a platform for honoring the contributions of eight multi-talented local artists (De Ama Battle, Bruno Eddie, Ife Franklin, Napolean Jones Henderson, Jacqueline L. McRath, Dale Patterson, Susie Smith, & Valerie Stephens) in a pilot phase of the project that, if successful, will usher in a long term effort on the part of CSSH and the Public History Program at Northeastern to begin a series of projects on the contemporary Black arts movement and its legacies. The project is unique because it is in partnership with community members and works to co-create the series of interventions that help tell these stories. The website here acts as a portal or an introductory gateway to the artists and their work, but more importantly to the stories of their lives and contributions to Boston’s history. This is the beginning of a kind of digital directory or gazette of Black artists that will continue to grow as we build relationships, listen, and learn from our community partners and elders. We hope that this website becomes a resource for others to both access these artists and learn more about this vibrant, dynamic, and creative community.

The students in this course, which was the first time Lee and Nieves taught the course, reflected on their experience, "We’re taking this course on "Documenting Fieldwork Narratives" to think about how history, memory, and archiving are important tools to document community experiences. We are interested in how our methods of documentation have historically excluded marginalized groups and how to address that in our methods. One main goal is to showcase our immediate community neighbors and how their experience of making a creative life and cultural community can enrich our understanding of Boston. This is a collaborative project that is co-created with you as the driving force. We hope to provide a venue or vehicle for the stories that you feel are missing or are important for your community and your work as an artist."

Students

Victoria Dey

Victoria Dey earned her B.A. in French and International Relations from the University of Rochester in 2021 and began the World History doctoral program at Northeastern University the following semester.

Janika Dillon

Janika Dillon graduated with honors from Brigham Young University (BYU) with a B.A. in Communications and a minor in German. She then completed a joint master's degree in Organizational Behavior and International Development from the BYU Marriott School of Business. Janika is now pursuing an M.A. in Public History at Northeastern.

Allison Donine

Allison Donine is a third-year PhD student and member of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI). Allison received an en-route MA in Sociology from Northeastern University and a BA in Environmental Policy from Pitzer College.

Callie Hansson

She/They

Callie Hansson is a doctoral student at Northeastern in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Previously, they attended the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where they earned a B.A. in Journalism.

Thomas Larose

Thomas Larose spent the last three and a half years serving as an Armor Officer in the United States Army, based out of Fort Hood, TX. Prior to commissioning he attended Clark University in Worcester, MA where he graduated Cum Laude in 2017, with a B.A in American History. He currently pursuing Master in history at Notheastern University.

Savita Maharaj

Savita Maharaj (course teaching assistant) is a B.A. Candidate in English with minors in Africana Studies and Writing at Northeastern University.

Miranda Melson

Miranda Melson joined Northeastern’s Sociology Ph.D program in 2020 and earned her B.A. in sociology, French, and global studies at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Rose-Laura Meus

Rose-Laura Meus is currently a B.A. Candidate in International Affairs and History at Northeastern University who is also pursuing an M.A. in World History

Titilayo Odedele

Titilayo Odedele is a graduate of Boston College, where she received her B.A. in Sociology, and Northeastern University, where she received her MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice. They are currently pursing her Ph.D in sociology at Northeastern Universtiy.

Morgan Richards

Morgan Richards graduated from Boston University in 2019 with a B.A. in the History of Art and Architecture and a minor in French. She is currently pursing an M.A. in Public History at Northeastern University.

Giorgia Shields

Giorgia Shields joined Northeastern’s sociology Ph.D. program in the Fall of 2019. She holds a B.A. in sociology from Georgia State University, and an M.A. in women’s and gender studies from the University of Texas at Austin.

Shavaun Sutton

Shavaun Sutton is a second-year doctoral student. She holds an M.A. in public health in Community Health Sciences from SUNY Downstate School of Public Health.

Vanessa Torres

She/Her/Ella

Vanessa Torres (She/Her/Ella) graduated from University of California, Irvine with a B.A. in Chicana/o/x-Latina/o/x Studies with a double minor in Latin American Studies and Literary Journalism in 2021. She currently pursing an Ph.D in history at Northeastern University.

Anna Zhang

Anna Zhang is a second-year Sociology PhD student in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Anna completed her BA in History and Sociology with a minor in East Asian Studies at Simmons University in Boston, MA.

Faculty

Doreen Lee

Doreen Lee is associate professor of anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Lee writes, researches, and teaches about urban politics, Southeast Asia, and critical theory.

Ángel David Nieves

Ángel David Nieves is Professor of Africana Studies, History, and Digital Humanities in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities (CSSH) at Northeastern University and is an Affiliate Professor in the Department of English and in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. He is currently Director of the Graduate Program in Public History and Director of Public Humanities in CSSH.

Staff

Dzidzor Azaglo

Dzidzor (Jee-Jaw) is a Ghanian-American folklore, performing artist, author, and curator. Dzidzor's style of call and response has combined traditional storytelling in Afro-folklore and Poetry Slam through a sonic experience. Dzidzor is moved by the responsibility to alarm the power/abundance in the midst of bodies while creating a practice of care and freedom through creativity. Dzidzor is the founder of Black Cotton Club and partners with Grubstreet, ICA Boston, and Boston Public Schools to teach creative empowerment workshops in Boston.