When Indigo Arts Alliance hosted a fundraising party April 8 at One Longfellow Square, the opening act for blues legend Guy Davis was Portland-based jazz-blues musician Viva, a 2019 Indigo Arts Alliance Artist in Residence (AiR).

The event, dubbed Spring Is in the AiR, focused on the residency program that has supported the development of 30 artists of color since the nonprofit was founded in 2019.

In addition to the concert, there was a lot of long-delayed hugging, as well as socializing with cocktail specials and heavy hors d’oeuvres, thanks to event sponsors The Francis, Allagash Brewing Co., Dean’s Sweets, Coffee by Design, VIA and Three of Strong.

Guests kept the good vibes going by raising their paddles to pledge over $50,000 for the AiR program, which “aims to connect Black and Brown artists from across the globe to local artists of African descent,” according to Indigo’s website.

Event emcee Leslie Cain explained, “Black represents the peoples of the African diaspora – African American, Afro-Latins, Afro Caribbean. And Brown represents the indigenous people of the Americas, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.”

With that framework, Indigo brings together artists diverse not only in their ethnicity and geography but in their field of study and creative method.

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“The majority are multimedia and multidisciplinary artists,” said Deputy Director Jordia Benjamin. “They include metalsmiths, photographers, collage artists, writers, videographers, performing artists and painters.”

Tanya Crane, who teaches metal arts at Tufts University, concludes her monthlong residency at the Indigo Arts Alliance Studio this week.

“Indigo Arts has offered a creative space to make my work, meet folks from around Maine who are also in the creative arts and to be a mentor to a fellow jewelry artist,” she said. “Maine is a predominantly white state, and so is New England. People of color have been pushed to the margins and are having to fight our way back in to reclaim our aesthetics, our cultural objects and our stories that have and are appropriated by the dominant culture. It’s important that we tell our stories through our creative work and that we have space to do this.”

Sonya Clark, an Amherst College instructor and 2021 artist in residence, summed it up: “Indigo is a place that engenders community, creativity and Black brilliance.”

Speaking of creative collaboration, Executive Director Marcia Minter did a little twirl and described the origin of her indigo dress: Her husband, Artistic Director Daniel Minter, designed and carved the Indigo Arts Alliance logo, then Meeta Mastani of India dyed and printed fabric with that wood block and brought the cloth with her when she flew here for her residency in 2019. And then, Portland-based designer Adele Ngoy, an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, turned the fabric into a dress.

“It’s a diasporic product that embodies what Indigo Arts Alliance does,” Marcia Minter said.

Amy Paradysz, who also wore an Adele Ngoy dress to the event, is a writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]


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