About the 2016 Summer Arts Residency @ Weeksville In Crown Heights, Brooklyn

By Heather Buchanan | Aquarius Press/Willow Books

“As a Brooklyn native, Weeksville remains important to our community and history.  I explore memory a great deal in my work and think it is a constant allure for the artist.” –Adisa Vera Beatty, 2016 Weeksville Summer Arts Residency Faculty.

And this is just what we’re hoping to achieve.  When my editor, Randall Horton, and I started planning the launch of residencies around the country, one of our first thoughts was, “What can we offer that artists can’t get elsewhere?”  Poets, writers and artists have so many choices now for where to spend their time, especially during the summer.  We wanted to provide a one-of-a-kind experience that would not only be beneficial, but culturally meaningful.  We set our sights upon Weeksville, a museum dedicated to preserving the history of a 19th century African American community.

Founded in 1838 in Brooklyn as one of America’s first free black communities, the WHC’s mission is to preserve, share and interpret the history of Weeksville.  The Hunterfly Road Houses, the only remaining domestic structures from the historic community, form the historical preservation core of the site.  Weeksville is hallowed ground, as far as I’m concerned.   What better place to bring writers of color together?  Thanks to the diligence of Weeksville’s Director of Strategic Development, Delana Dameron, John Randall and I have spent years hosting events at all kinds of venues, and we are thrilled to see how Weeksville fits a larger picture.  Following Weeksville’s model, our other upcoming residencies will all take place in historic districts.  Place and memory play a critical role in creative writing, so we are aiming to make this a core part of our residencies.  History will be made at Weeksville, and I feel privileged to witness this blending of a revolutionary past with a promising future.

Art: Heroes of the colored race poster from 1881.  The print shows head-and-shoulders portraits of Blanche Kelso Bruce, Frederick Douglass, and Hiram Rhoades Revels surrounded by scenes of African American life and portraits of Jno. R. Lynch, Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, Ulysses S. Grant, Joseph H. Rainey, Charles E. Nash, John Brown, and Robert Smalls.Created / PublishedPhila. : Published by J. Hoover, 1881, c1883.  Image Source:  Library of Congress

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