University News

CSREA debuts new Waterman Street location

Center kicks off revitalized mission with ‘Rising/Uprising in Baltimore: A Beautiful Ghetto’

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, September 9, 2016

The Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America held an open house Thursday to celebrate the center’s new location at Lippitt House on 96 Waterman and its 2016-2017 art exhibit, “Rising/Uprising in Baltimore: A Beautiful Ghetto.” Prior to this semester, the center was housed in the Brown/RISD Hillel building.

Members of the Brown community swarmed inside the pale purple interior of Lippitt House and wandered from photograph to photograph. “Rising/Uprising” features black-and-white images taken by self-taught photographer Devin Allen, who covered the community response to the death of Freddie Gray. Allen’s work was featured in a New York Times blog, and one of his photographs was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine.

“From a public humanities perspective, this exhibit embodies the idea that art can not only generate conversations about vital issues, but also give meaning to humanity itself,” wrote Brigitte Santana, CSREA curatorial fellow, in an email to The Herald.

Tricia Rose MA’87 PhD’93 P’14, director of CSREA, associate dean of the faculty for special initiatives and professor of Africana studies, welcomed visitors at the entrance. The exhibit is representative of CSREA’s larger “mission to use art as a way of creating critical reflection and creative responses to issues of injustice and inequality.” Rose praises the exhibit’s presentation of members of the black community in their mourning of tragedies as well as their everyday lives. Too often the black community is seen as loud, angry and hurting, she said. To further contribute to CSREA’s artistic and educational mission, Rose hopes to invite poets and serious researchers alike.

Kevin McLaughlin, dean of the faculty, spoke to the crowd of visitors and thanked key players in the development of CSREA, including Evelyn Hu-Dehart, professor of history and American studies and former director of the center, and President Christina Paxson P’19, who was present at the event. “Without her commitment and support, we wouldn’t have been able to do this,” McLaughlin said of Paxson.

Rose echoed the easy relationship with administration in revitalizing CSREA. “I never had a problem accessing information, resources, help or creativity,” she said.

CSREA, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, “is becoming a dynamic hub bringing together a lot of people to talk about important issues of race and ethnicity and offers an opportunity to advance scholarship and create a public impact,” Paxson said. “It integrates social science and art, which is a powerful combination,” she added.

Its central location on campus will make CSREA a more accessible and welcoming place, Rose said. With the extra space, CSREA can invite scholars and speakers, hold exhibitions and offer lectures to the Brown community, she said.

“It’s a beautiful building, and its central location befits its significance within the context of the university and beyond,” Santana wrote.

Chinyere Agbai GS, a PhD student studying sociology, hopes to see talks discussing how racism functions today, she said. “Pop culture often depicts historical racism, but it’s important to keep talking about structural racism today,” Agbai said.

“Rising/Uprising” encouraged Matt Martinez, a postdoctoral research associate in population studies, to consider questions like “What is power?” and “What is it to be free?” and “How do we define black identity?”

CSREA, with a group of graduate, postdoctoral and faculty fellows, will bring together issues of race, ethnicity, immigration, culture and more to collaborate with and educate the public, Rose said.