Art education at UMass Dartmouth has a long and winding history. In 1988, the Swain School School of Design, which began in 1881 in New Bedford, MA, merged with then-Southeastern Massachusetts University's College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). Today, thousands artists, graphic designers, photographers, sculptors, and musicians carry the tradition as UMassD alumni.
Swain alumni ensured that tradition continued when they created the Swain School of Design Alumni Scholarship Fund, granted annually to sophomore students in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.
“We wanted to preserve the history, to make a connection between Swain and UMassD and provide an opportunity for current students to be enriched as we were,” said Don Wilkinson, Swain ’82, MFA ’92.
Noah Tavares will be a part of that history when he graduates in 2021 with his degree in photography.
Tavares, of Mattapoisett, MA, briefly pursued studies in construction management, then transferred to UMassD after he discovered that photography was his passion. He’s forming his style and often finds inspiration in Ansel Adams, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Tavares recently documented his cross-country trip to Glacier National Park in Montana. “I wanted to capture scenes across America in today’s unique times, especially the conditions of our national parks,” he said. “This project challenged me to reach outside of what I typically shoot.”
His photo narrative project, “Forester: An American Survey,” was named one of the winners of the Office of Undergraduate Research’s 2019 Fall Stipend Initiative.
The Swain legacy is alive at UMassD. Several faculty and staff remain at CVPA, and its alumni are active in the local arts community. Wilkinson, of New Bedford, is a painter and art critic for Southcoast Today/The Standard-Times newspaper and Artscope Magazine. “We are honored to also be a part of the future of art at UMassD by supporting students like Noah who enjoy the challenge and reward of being an artist,” Wilkinson said.