Past Events with Violence Transformed:
*Click year for more information
For their homepage, please visit http://ncaaa.org/museum.html
Meet Edmund Barry Gaither, Executive Director of the National Center of Afro-American Artists
Elma Lewis, founder of the National Center of Afro-American Artists (NCAAA), was fond of quoting Somerset Maugham who said that the object of art was not beauty, but right action. She thereby underscored that artists play powerful roles in promoting humane action and lifting people’s aspirations. Emerging from racial exclusion and dehumanization, the NCAAA itself is a testament to the belief that art can inspire resilience, and elevate people’s vision of themselves. Since assuming the directorship of the NCAAA after Miss Lewis’ death in 2004, I have striven to lift and enhance life and foster imagination in our community. Through exhibitions, performances and critical discussions, our museum has celebrated personal and communal triumphs through the arts, while challenging lingering distortions that are the aftermath of slavery, colonialism, Jim Crow and alas the New Jim Crow. Given this framework, it was easy for the Museum of the NCAAA to enthusiastically join Violence Transformed, since both seek to move our society toward more just and wholesome outcomes that value creativity, empathy, compassion, and posit a higher vision of human possibility.
Violence Transformed represents the power of collaboratively addressing tears that threaten to rip apart the social fabric that we share. Fueled by a common commitment to build community, Violence Transformed has brought together partners across cultural and economic boundaries, as well as across boundaries of institutional types. Art schools, museums, hospitals, colleges, secondary schools, community centers, and artists alliances, have all joined together to realize the benefits of working together. All have created opportunities for young people to explore themselves and each other and to learn to live through tolerance and caring. Together, we have promoted a dialogue richer than any one of us could have sponsored alone. Without fear or reservation, “heavy topics” ranging from racism to homophobia, domestic violence to genocide, have been tackled. Violence Transformed has created a space for honest speech and open expression of ideas, and it has provided opportunities for evolving a vocabulary—a creative one at that—through which such expression could happen.
In Boston and Cambridge, both cities that are geographically compact, neighborhoods have nevertheless often seemed insular and isolated. Nevertheless, Violence Transformed stimulated exchanges, bringing together youth and adults of good will from Roxbury, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, South Boston, East Boston, and “across the river” demonstrating that the human spirit in its fragility and its boldness knows no limitation. The Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists has been honored to participate with many others in making and sustaining Violence Transformed, and simultaneously in making a better world for all of us to share. Together, the collaborative of Violence Transformed has called upon each of us to imagine ourselves as part of one world made better through the positive exercise of its creativity. We have chosen to convert ordeals into opportunities for triumph of the spirit.