UMass Dartmouth's Frederick Douglass Unity House kicks off Black History Month with art gallery opening

UMass Dartmouth's Frederick Douglass Unity House kicks off Black History Month with art gallery opening

The Frederick Douglass Unity House ushered in Black History Month by hosting its first art gallery show. The Unity House asked the UMass Dartmouth community to submit works celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights, human and racial equality, family, and--of course--unity.

"The art gallery came out of our, as a staff, wanting to further develop our ability to reach out to a wider variety of artists on campus," said Keith Wilder, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of the Unity House.

The gallery featured painting and poetry submissions from six artists. Additionally, UMass Dartmouth's Kekeli African Drum and Dance Ensemble, led by Professor royal hartigan, performed while visitors streamed into the gallery. Kevin Jose '12, accompanied by the ensemble, demonstrated "strollin"--a slavery-inspired dance style that emulates the rhythm of a chain gang.

Matt Dean, a senior illustration major, and James Negri, a sophomore civil engineering major, coordinated the event. Preparations for the gallery began in October 2012, and they aimed to have the space ready by winter 2013.

"We really wanted a show for second semester for Black History month," Dean said.

Dean and Negri shared a vision for creating a gallery that reflected the Unity House's unique atmosphere and values. "I wanted it to be different than the CVPA gallery, because this is a really homey space," remarked Dean. Echoing the Unity House's commitment to student support, Negri added, "The motif is by students, for students."

Dean and Negri are grateful for everyone who collaborated on the project. "It was a community effort. That's what this place is about. It's about unity," Dean said.

The Unity House plans on featuring more themed artwork in upcoming months. Wilder hopes the space will continue to bring the UMass Dartmouth Community together, saying, "The art gallery can become an expression of unity."

The Unity House will host events throughout February to celebrate Black History Month, listed at

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