As a critical part of Indigo’s mission, we have cultivated relationships with a broad range of community partners. This is how we ensure exposure and representation for people of color across the state and nationally. These engagements ensure visibility for our artists as vibrant contributors to the arts.
Nyugen E. Smith, Virtual Artist-in-Residence
Join Indigo Arts Alliance (IAA) and PAMM for The Wave, a series of three online conversations between artists, scholars, and others who are specialists in their fields. This series of conversations is a dialogue on current and future impact of the pandemic on Black and Brown communities locally and globally, and prioritizes the need for generative conversations, together with concrete actions, that are in service of and benefit to our communities.
The Wave: EXODUS (Movement of our people)
Immigrant and Migrant communities of color are heavily impacted by intended and unintended consequences of policies instituted by governments worldwide, and Covid-19 has further exacerbated their plight. The outbreak of this pandemic is the largest mobility crisis the world has ever seen, according to the International Organization for Migration. Border closings, lack of access to food and medical care, racial profiling, and nationalistic responses are putting already vulnerable communities at an even greater risk. The panel will respond to such pressing issues as it relates to their profession, interests, and research. The panel is hosted by artist Nyugen Smith, moderated by PAMM Curator María Elena Ortiz, and features poet and spoken-word artist Roger Bonair-Agard; respected scholar, producer, activist, educator, author, professor, and Yoruba priestess Dr. Marta Moreno-Vega; multidisciplinary artist, mother and former doula Tsedaye Makonnen.
Inaugural Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Virtual Festival
Indigo Arts Alliance and I’m Your Neighbor Books are proud to produce The Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival, an inaugural event in honor of artist Ashley Bryan. This one-of-a-kind program will celebrate authors and illustrators from across the African diaspora while honoring their roots, identity and resiliency. The festival will include online readings featuring selected works by several nationally recognized authors, online arts and craft workshops and a lively dance-along performance. We are committed to enabling readers to see themselves reflected in great literature and cultivating creators who understand the necessity of that reflection. We’ll also be giving away over 750 books to communities served through Portland Housing Authority. Special thanks to our partners I’m Your Neighbor Books, Diverse Book Finder, the Ashley Bryan Center. Our Sponsors: The Horizon Foundation, The Davis Family Foundation, Maine Community Foundation, Coffee By Design. Our Community Partners: Portland Parks and Rec, Portland Housing Authority, and Knack Factory.
Indigo Presents: Instagram live and Video Series
A weekly series spotlighting local Black and Brown artists across disciplines. We will also be sharing Indigo-produced videos showcasing the creative processes of artists both locally and nationally. This is just one of our efforts to further our mission: amplify unique voices and visions while continuing to expose and compensate participating artists through our Alliance. In partnership with the Black Artists Forum and The American Craft Council.
Let this Dynamic Songstress bring the joy of Latin rhythms and more into your home.
DJ Artist Liz Rhaney
Indigo is sending out cheers to all the Graduating students.
MAGIC: Poetry Readings by Samaa Abdurraqib + Maya Williams
Samaa Abdurraqib was raised in the Land of Buckeyes (Ohio), spent 8 years in the Land of Dairy (Wisconsin), and moved to the Land of Lobsters in August 2010. She enjoys birding, hiking and being outdoors, facilitating reading groups for the Maine Humanities Council, and coaching leaders of color. Samaa’s academic and non-academic writing can be found in a variety of edited collections, academic journals, and on the online platform The Body Is Not An Apology. Her poem, “End of Land – Deer Isle” was recently published (2020) in Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s Voices From the Coast – a publication celebrating the organization’s 50th anniversary.
Maya Williams (she/hers & they/them) is a religious queer Black Mixed Race suicide survivor constantly writing poems and asking people if she can give them hugs. She has competed locally and nationally in slam since her freshman year at East Carolina University under the slam team Word of Mouth in Greenville, North Carolina. While with them, she has placed in the top 20 at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) in 2015, and opened for folks such as Indira Allegra, Neil Hilborn, and Angela Davis.
Original Music by Just. Plain. Jones.
Just Plain Jones is the nom-de-plume of Portland producer-rapper-singer-multi-instrumentalist, Patrick Jones. His style blends his pan-idiomatic songwriting sensibilities with his mastery of hip-hop production from ethereal boom-bap to heavy electro-funk to sinewy neo-soul.
Originally from the DC metro area, Jones, has been producing, songwriting, and performing for 15 years, and recently released his newest self produced project Foie Gras. Patrick teaches Digital Music production, “I believe that digital production can offer a new and inclusive path to explore sound, composition, and songwriting. My role as a teacher is to help students put words to concepts and ideas and grow their creative repertoire”.
Justice For Women and Indigo Arts Alliance presents: An Evening of Spoken Word Poetry with Nyamuon Nguany Machar (aka— Moon) and Emi Mahmoud “Until the Lion Learns to Speak, The Tale will Glorify the Hunter”Indigo Arts Alliance, 60 Cove Street, Portland, Maine
Come out to hear some of the cities’ finest spoken word poets represent and get ready to have your mind blown by their incredible talent and stories.
This event is sponsored by The JFW Lecture Series, presented by the University of Maine School of Law, brings speakers to Maine each year to discuss their work and strategies to promote justice for women and girls. Maine Law established the series in 2011 with leadership and support from attorney and civic leader Catherine Lee of Lee International.
Artists Talk. Sean Alonzo Harris and Nyamuon Nguany Machar (AKA— Moon) Poet/Writer. Topic: Voices in our Midst II.Indigo Arts Alliance, 60 Cove Street, Portland, Maine
Indigo Arts Alliance Winter Artists in Residence will give us a sneak peek and preview of their latest collaboration —Voices in Our Midst II. This work is unfolding in a beautiful collaboration of words and imagery. Moon’s poetry is written in response to Sean’s arresting and celebratory images of life in East Bayside, Portland. The work focuses on human experience and identity and is informed by the personal histories of community members living in Maine’s most diverse neighborhood.
Kifah Abdulla Book Signing and Reading
Indigo Arts Alliance, 60 Cove Street, Portland, Maine
Mountains Without Peaks: A Memoir
Kifah Abdulla has been hailed by Jenny Can West and others as “Exceptional: lucid, crisp, meditative, and heartbreaking. As if in chiaroscuro-miniature detailed paintings. Kifah tells of home life in Baghdad during the war, that world closing and disappearing as the war unfolds.
Kifah is an Artist, poet, activist, soldier, POW, exile, teacher, international citizen. “All these describe me, and I paint and write poetry mining my life experiences, yielding work with the universal themes of love, freedom, hope, fate, passion, and peace. I’m interested in contemporary art, visual arts, sculpture, poetry, interior design, graphic design, illustration, creative ideas and I also interested in science and researches. My artwork employs different artistic styles to explore social, spiritual, emotional and cultural themes.”
CMCA Artist ToolboxIndigo Arts Alliance, 60 Cove Street, Portland, Maine
The CMCA is offering the “Artist Toolbox”, a new statewide initiative designed to help artists develop professional skills. This statewide initiative, supported by a major grant from the Roxanne Quimby Foundation, will be offered to all regions throughout the state of Maine, through informative presentations and intensive weekend workshops at either no charge or a nominal charge to artists.
CMCA Executive Director Suzette McAvoy says, “Through our work, we’ve noted that many artists are underprepared to market and represent themselves in the changing dynamics of today’s arts and culture sectors. We’ve designed the Artist Toolbox program to help meet these needs.”
The CMCA has hired Kim Bernard to administer the program in its inaugural year. CMCA Artist Toolbox Talk presented by Kim Bernard will introduce artists to the most critical skills needed to represent themselves and advance professionally in the changing dynamics of today’s arts and culture sectors. Creating a strong, body of work is the most important part of being an artist, but then what? This presentation will cover hi-priority topics such as: photographing your work, websites, gallery representation, pricing, networking, and small business basics, followed by a Q&A. Free and open to the public
Artists Talk. Photographer. Sean Alonzo Harris in Conversation with C. Danny Dawson, Topic: Voices in Our Midst.Indigo Arts Alliance, 60 Cove Street, Portland, Maine
This will be a very special afternoon not to be missed. Séan Alonzo Harris has weaved through a life of photography standing on the shoulders of great role models. In this talk he will share how the gift of a camera from his grandmother continues to influence his work today.
“There are voices in our midst that call to us, people who know us by name and speak to something in us- some hope, some dream, some vague idea- waiting to be born. When we least expect it, they make our familiar world strange again and teach us how to find our way in it.” ––Marcus Bruce
Voices in Our Midst is a collection of street photography and portraits by Sean Alonzo Harris taken in Portland, Maine over the past few years. This work focuses on human experience and identity and is informed by the stories of those who have gone before us and those who move among us each day. Harris’ interest resides in telling the untold stories, speaking the forgotten voices and capturing personal histories through the photographic image. Harris will be in conversation with the great C. Daniel Dawson of the Kamoinge Workshop, a group of African American photographers he helped to found in 1963. When the collective began in New York City, they selected the name Kamoinge, which means “a group of people acting and working together” in Gikuyu, the language of the Kikuyu people of Kenya. They met weekly, exhibited and published together, and pushed each other to expand the boundaries of photography as an art form during a critical era of Black self-determination in the 1960s and 1970s.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is currently exhibiting: Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop https://www.vmfa.museum/exhibitions/exhibitions/working-together-kamoinge/
Artist Talk with Moon Nguany Machar, Lioness Learns to Speak.Indigo Arts Alliance, 60 Cove Street, Portland, Maine
Storytelling is one of humanity’s oldest traditions. Proven time and again throughout history, those who left behind stories are those who have become established references to our collective past. More recently, even journalism and media outlets have become storytellers, with chosen narrators and platforms designed for mass consumption.
“My father told me my first story. He was a child soldier in the former civil war of Sudan, now South Sudan. The stories he has shared with me over the years—his first-hand accounts of the conflicts plaguing the country—opened my eyes to the concept of war through the lens of the people who lived it, without filter, agenda, or bureaucracy. In this talk I will share my story.”
Film Screening and Conversation with Sarah K. Khan: Selections from her Migrant Kitchens Series.Cove Street Arts, 71 Cove Street, Portland, Maine
We are all migrants whether descendants of settlers, colonizers, seekers, or enslaved. Each of us originated from somewhere else unless our ancestors descended from indigenous peoples. And yet with passion, communities both embrace and demonize migrants, indigenous, and refugees across the United States and the globe. To counter xenophobia, Migrant Kitchens is about the embrace, and our capacity to love all who cross borders, dare to transgress, and risk lives to protect loved ones. Migrant Kitchens stories derive from one of the most diverse regions of the world, Queens NY. Of the nearly 2.5 million inhabitants of this fourth largest city in the United States, over 50% of the population is immigrants. Around 160 languages ricochet off the public school walls in 53 neighborhoods. Abundant culinary diversity endures amidst the high concentration of cultural variety. Foodways travel. To survive and find their bearings, many Queens migrants, new and old, work in the food industry. In kitchens at home, on the streets, or in the restaurants, Migrant Kitchens recognizes food as an anchor and as an entry point for migrants to make a living. Food is familiar. It is refuge for the refugee.
Block Printing ClassesIndigo Arts Alliance, 60 Cove Street, Portland, Maine
Artists Talk Meeta Mastani and Sarah K. Khan Topic: “Flying Sheroes”Indigo Arts Alliance, 60 Cove Street, Portland, Maine
Meeta Mastani is an internationally known print/natural dye artist and community development advocate. She works at the intersection of sustainable development, culture, craft, design, arts, and retail, expressing herself through different media and helping to generate livelihoods for marginalized communities. She travels India, working with artisans in the area of textiles, folk art, paper, leather, and wood. She has done collaborative work in different parts of the world, and has taught as an artist in residence at UW Madison in the U.S. Since co-founding the art /craft centered sustainable business- Bindaas Unlimited, she has focused on reinterpreting traditional craft and art for urban and international markets. She lives part of the year in rural Rajasthan where she creates contemporary block prints on textiles and T-shirts with traditional printer communities, reviving and expanding the natural dyeing traditions and creating new designs and techniques. An example of her work was recently displayed in ‘The Fabric of India’ at the Victoria & Albert Museum-London.
Join Palaver Strings, the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center, and Portland Ovations
Join Palaver Strings, the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center, and Portland Ovations to hear stories of courage, resilience, travel, and transition from three of Maine’s immigrant communities. Facilitated by Marty Pottenger, guests will be invited to share their own experiences and how and why they call Portland home. This afternoon will kick off Welcome Home, a statewide concert tour that premieres in Portland at Port City Music Hall on November 14, 2019, at 7 pm.
Featuring Welcome Home speakers Kifah Abdulla, Alain Iginareza, and Rhea Côté-Robbins, as well as musicians from Palaver Strings.
Artist + Scholar Lecture, Daniel Minter and Henry John Drewal in Conversation, Othered: Displaced from MalagaCove Street Arts, 71 Cove Street, Portland, Maine
Indigo Arts Alliance and Cove St. Arts are proud to present Daniel Minter in conversation with Henry John Drewal — Othered: Displaced from Malaga. The two will discuss Professor Drewal’s recent essay— Revelations: Bitter History, Enduring Spirit in the Art of Daniel Minter. The essay is in response to Minter’s 2018 University Of Southern Maine Artists Residency. This is the second series of paintings inspired by Minter’s reverence, research, and respect for the people of Malaga Island. Minter is a painter, sculptor, and illustrator who uses art as a tool for dialogue with his community. His work reflects abiding themes of displacement and diaspora; ordinary/extraordinary blackness; spirituality in the Afro-Atlantic world; and the (re)creation of meanings of home.
Henry John Drewal has published several books and edited volumes and many articles on various aspects of African art, among them: Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought, which toured seven US cities, and Beads, Body, and Soul: Art and Light in the Yoruba Universe, which toured five US cities between 1998-2000. He is theEvjue-Bascom Professor of Art History and Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Adjunct Curator of African Art at the Chazen Museum of Art, UW-Madison.
Artists Talk. Sarah K. Khan, Documentary Film Maker, Textile Artists from New York/Pakistan. Topic: Book of Delights and Cook Book of Gestures.Indigo Arts Alliance, 60 Cove Street, Portland, Maine
Sarah K. Khan, a two-time Fulbright Scholar (2001-02 & 2014-15), creates multimedia content about food, culture, women, and migrants grounded in social justice. Sarah spent 20 years researching traditional ecological knowledge systems of Asia and the Middle East (nutrition, public health, integrative medicine, plant sciences, and agro-ecology). She pulls together her multiple skills as a scholar/artist to share her work with the larger global audience. She creates global media content. The goal is to make invisible visible, bear witness, and relay the stories of migrants, through the lens of food with photography, film, interactive maps and story. She is assembling a series of multimedia and photographic exhibits on “In/Visible: Migrant Kitchens,” “In/Visible: Porters of Taste” that explores the lives of migrant workers in Old Delhi; and another on “In/Visible: Women Farmers.” At present Sarah continues Migrant Kitchens in Queens New York, and with a group of women in Fez, Morocco.
Artist Lecture. David Driskell, A Life in Art, Gardening & Material CultureCMCA, 21 Winter St, Rockland, Maine
Highly regarded as an artist, scholar, and curator, David Driskell is one of the world’s leading authorities on African American Art. He has been the recipient of thirteen honorary doctorates and has contributed significantly to scholarship in the history of art on the role of Black artists in America. His paintings and collages reflect his personal vision and memory. Marked by the artist’s abiding color sensibilities, his work bears the imprint of a turbulent era, a return to nature, and Driskell’s synthesis of the European, American, and African art forms he knew firsthand.
Myron M. Beasley, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Cultural Studies at Bates College. He is a scholar and international curator. His ethnographic research includes exploring the intersection of cultural politics, art, and social change, as he believes in the power of artists and recognize them as cultural workers; He has been awarded fellowships and grants by the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Whiting Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, the Kindling Fund, The Davis Family Foundation, the Ruth Landes Award from the Reed Foundation, and most recently Dorathea and Leo Rabkin Foundation for his ethnographic writing about art and cultural engagement.
David Driskell, Born in 1931 in Eatonton, Georgia. He was educated at Howard University and received a Master of Fine Arts from The Catholic University Of America. In 1953 he attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. In 1961 he became a summer resident of Maine. He currently holds the title of Distinguished University Professor of Art, Emeritus, at the University of Maryland, College Park. In 1997, Driskell was awarded the President’s Medal, the highest honor the University of Maryland bestows on a member of its faculty. In 1998, the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora was founded to promote his scholarship and service to the University.
In December of 2000, President Bill Clinton bestowed the National Humanities Medal on Driskell. Trained as a painter and art historian, Driskell works principally in collage and mixed media. His paintings and prints have been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions in galleries and museums throughout the USA, including the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Oakland Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He has been the recipient of several foundation fellowships among which are the Harmon Foundation, three Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships and the Danforth Foundation.
Belize’s Garifuna Collective
The Garifuna Collective is a pan-generational musical group from Belize that has been performing the music of the Garifuna people for more than 20 years. If you’re unfamiliar, The Garifuna are descendants of Afro-indigenous people who survived a slave shipwreck off St. Vincent and were later exiled to Honduras and Belize.
The Garifuna Collective has performed in over 30 countries across 5 continents. This will be their first trip to Maine! Their critically acclaimed album, Wátina, was a recipient of the Womex and BBC World Music Awards and voted by Amazon as the “#1 World Music Album of All Time” (besting albums by Bob Marley, Celia Cruz, Ravi Shankar, and others). o-presented with Space Gallery, the show is an incredible and rare opportunity to hear the music of the Garifuna people.
Dance Lecture/Demo with Jumatatu M. Poe & Jerome DonteIndigo Arts Alliance, 60 Cove Street, Portland, Maine
jumatatu m. poe and Jerome Donte Beacham’s Intervention is the part performance, part public action designed to provoke dialogue about Black queer life in public space. Centered around J-Sette performance and culture, this work is free and open to anyone who wishes to follow it through the streets of Portland. The walking performance begins at 6 pm in two groups: one will start at Indigo Arts Alliance (located at 60 Cove Street) and one will start at Blackstones (located at 6 Pine Street). Both will culminate at SPACE in a celebration with a live DJ set by Liz Rhaney. A second performance will take place in Lewiston on August 3rd as part of the Bates Dance Festival offerings.
Presented in partnership with the Bates Dance Festival.
Artist Talk with Fo WilsonIndigo Arts Alliance, 60 Cove Street, Portland, Maine
Wilson will discuss using speculative fictions as a strategy in her work and practice. Focusing on two recent projects, dark matter & the eliza cabinet project, she will talk about how she mines history and archives for use as artistic material and positions the Black imagination as an essential element in Black survival and self-determination through an Afrofuturist framework.
Folayemi (Fo) Wilson is an object and image-maker whose work celebrates Black femme representation and the Black imagination as a technology of resistance and self-determination. Her work explores the Black Atlantic experience though sculptural and multimedia installations presenting speculative fictions that reference history integrating inspiration from American vernacular architecture, literature and science fiction, using original sculpture, found objects, archival media, sound, and video. Her process utilizes her training in art history and critical theory employing the archive and other research methods to mine history for use as material in her creative practice. Wilson earned a MFA in Furniture Design from the Rhode Island School of Design with a concentration in Art History, Theory & Criticism and is an Associate professor at Columbia College Chicago. Her design work is included in the collection of the Cooper Hewitt National Museum of Design. She is on the board of the American Craft Council and was honored as a 3Arts awardee in 2015.
An Inside Dance conversation with internationally renowned choreographer, Reggie Wilson in partnership with Bates Dance Festival.Indigo Arts Alliance, 60 Cove Street, Portland, Maine
Join us for an informal discussion with lecturer and choreographer Reggie Wilson about his work. Co-hosted by Bates Dance Festival and Indigo Arts Alliance, this FREE event is part of BDF’s Inside Dance series.
In this lecture, Wilson breaks-down elements of the Ring Shout, the arguable beginning building block of the Black Church, for audience participation and reconstruction. He speaks to how the Ring Shout has served in the naming of his company and in his work and research by discussing his movement analysis of elements of post-modern dance and African kinesthetic genius over time and space.
2019 Inagural Events
Indigo Arts Alliance launched in May of 2019 with two groundbreaking events: Black, Brown + Indigo film series, and The Welcome Table. Friends, family, and supporters worked tirelessly to make these events happen. We honor their work by listings these past events here.
Toshi Reagon + Samuel JamesPortland House of Music, 25 Temple St, Portland, Maine
A Very Special concert has been added on Sunday, June 9th, Featuring Toshi Reagon and Samuel James. Both Nationally acclaimed singer/songwriters musicians.
Toshi Reagon is a one-woman celebration of all that’s dynamic, progressive and uplifting in American music. She has moved audiences of all kinds with her big-hearted, hold-nothing-back approach to rock, blues, R&B, country, folk, spirituals, and funk.
The Welcome Table: A Community Symposium on Sustenance, Creativity and Multiracial DemocracyIndigo Arts Alliance, 60 Cove Street, Portland, Maine
The Welcome Table: A Community Symposium on Sustenance, Creativity and Multiracial Democracy. Establishes Indigo’s commitment to artists and communities of African descent as an essential part of the meaning of a healthy, multiracial society.
An intergenerational gathering celebrating the cultural traditions of the African Diaspora and Indigenous Peoples. IAA will bring together scholars, activists, religious leaders, artists, culinary specialists and members of the public to explore the links between culture and spirituality in national and international community building.
Art, Music, Dance, Conversation
The programming will feature lectures, symposia and public conversations on the cultural histories, traditions, and wisdom of diverse Maine-based and international communities. ALL community members can participate in teacher-led arts workshops in Printmaking, Dance and Music, and enjoy a live performance by ViVa and the Reinforcements.
The culminating event of the day will be a community meal for upwards of 100 people. Prepared by cultural activists and ritual leaders from Salvador Bahia, Brazil, Moderated by Scholars who will explain the significance of the foods prepared and the importance held for spiritual renewal as literal and figurative sustenance in our African Diasporic travels across the waters.
New Voices from the Diaspora, A Film Festival Showcasing the work of filmmakers from across the African Diaspora.
Our First Event in collaboration with SPACE538:
Films shown were selected in consultation with members from Maine’s African immigrant community to ensure relevance for our local residents. It featured films by African-American, Caribbean and South American makers as well.
Over the course of the 2-day festival, there were 5 blocks for films: 1 for kids shorts, 2 shorts series, and 2 features, plus 1 scholar-led talk and 1 workshop for local filmmakers with a guest director.
Co-Curators: Karen McMullen and Tocarra Thomas