The Bristol Art Museum Presents An Afternoon with Christine DePoto and Mark Levy in conversation with Keith Stokes, celebrating Black History Month and the Freedom Riders on Sunday, February 25, 2 p.m. at the Museum. This is the first in a series of The Bristol Art Museum’s lectures and talks for the Dr. Robert Arruda Memorial Lecture Series.
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This captivating talk will delve into the intersection of art, activism, and the enduring legacy of the Freedom Riders and will be a highlight for Black History Month, paying homage to a pivotal chapter in American history.
“Christine DePoto is the talented artist behind the powerful large-scale, outdoor, portraits of the Freedom Riders on Franklin Street in Bristol,” said Mary Dondero, Bristol Art Museum Curator and Board member. “Her remarkable project, an 18-month labor of love, captures the essence of the Freedom Riders through colorful, vivid portraits, drawing inspiration from historical mugshots of individuals. This endeavor delves into the courageous stories of individuals who fought for justice during the challenging era of the 1960’s. Her work not only commemorates the past but also sparks important conversations about the present and the ongoing struggle for equality.”
During the artist talk, DePoto will share insights into her creative process, the challenges of capturing the essence of the Freedom Riders, and the significance of preserving their stories through art. She emphasizes the importance of understanding the subject matter, having dedicated hours to watching documentaries to ensure authenticity in her work.
Levy is a retired educator and one of the developers of college civil rights archives. He frequently serves as an invited speaker at many schools and colleges in the United States and United Kingdom. In 1963 he organized a busload of fellow students to travel the famous civil rights March on Washington. A year later, he volunteered to go to Mississippi as part of Freedom Summer 1964 and served there as the coordinator of the Meridian Freedom School. Levy has published a number of articles about the Freedom Summer, and is the subject of a PBS short documentary, The Teacher.
Stokes is an Advisor for Rhode Island with the National Trust for Historic Preservation along with serving on numerous regional and national historic preservation boards including Chairman of the Touro Synagogue Foundation, Vice President & Trustee of the Preservation Society for Newport County, and Newport Historical Society. Stokes is a frequent national, state and local lecturer in community & regional planning, historic preservation and interpretation with an expertise in early African and Jewish American history. HE frequently appears on national historical programs including C-SPAN, Fox News Legends & Lies, and Ted Talk. Mr. Stokes recently travelled to Ghana, Africa to deliver a lecture as part of the 400th Anniversary of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
The afternoon promises an engaging discussion on the historical context of the Freedom Riders, the artistic journey of a emerging artist, and the continued relevance of their struggle in today's society. Attendees will have the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the art project's conception, and the broader implications of keeping this essential part of history alive through art.
DePoto envisions expanding this impactful artwork to other cities and towns across the country, encouraging collaboration with local artists to tell the stories of the countless Freedom Riders. Her vision is not only to commemorate the past but also to inspire a collective effort in keeping the stories alive and relevant.
“The community is invited to join us on February 25 at the Bristol Art Museum for a thought-provoking evening with Christine DePoto, as we celebrate Black History Month and honor the brave individuals who paved the way for a more just society,” added Dondero.