Celebrating Black History Month

February’s Black History Month will be remembered as unique in the city of Waterville, Maine. Leading other small communities in an effort to foment and inspire art education, kids will receive an art kit, and a copy of Ashley Bryan’s children book: “Beautiful Blackbird.” 

Back in April, the non-profit organization, Waterville Creates, led an effort to distribute art kits to all, responding to the new  challenges brought on by the COVID-19 nationwide crisis. These art kits include materials as to allow them to get creative and make a collage. The kits will be distributed at no charge starting February 25th at 4pm. The purpose of these kits, is not only to bring families to read and create together, but to learn about Bryan’s work.

Mr. Ashley’s work as an illustrator and writer treats the subject of inclusion and diversity.

Born in Harlem, New York in 1923, his life and studies are testaments of endurance, accomplishment, and creativity. He served in a segregated battalion during World War II. Drawing helped him cope with his trials as a black man while continuing to be true to his convictions and humanity. His work is in permanent  exhibition at the Colby College Museum of Art.

As part of the Black History Month celebration, the 2016 documentary “I know a man… Ashley Bryan,” will be streaming at Maine Film Center’s website. His  life and times, take a vivid portrayal in the film.  The documentary also gives viewers a peek at his work, such as his beautiful linocut prints.

Waterville Creates initiative is not a lonesome attempt at educating the public about Mr. Ashley’s work and life, and art in general.  Some sponsors include Maine General Health, Kennebec Savings Bank, Colby Center for the Arts + Humanities, Bangor Savings Bank, New Dimensions Federal Credit Union, and Back Office Solutions. Donations from the public can be made through their website.