Nonprofit fundraisers are, and should be, a good time. But Indigo Arts Alliance took that to another level with Spring is in the AIR, a joyful celebration of its artist residency program April 6 at The Public Works event space in Portland’s Bayside.

“We love to move, we love to party, and we love to eat,” laughed Deputy Director Jordia Benjamin.

The evening included a laser light dance party with DJ Firefly and a buffet of jambalaya, Liberian rice and shrimp, Ghanian fried plantains, barbecue ribs and croissant bread pudding.

“This is a celebration,” said co-founder Marcia Minter, who twirled in her rainbow-colored ribbon dress to the crowd’s appreciative hoots and hollers. “As Maine’s first and only nonprofit Black-led arts organization, our work is in service to shifting historical injustices as a means of achieving equity for Black and Brown artists. We believe – no, we know – that artists are instrumental in doing the work of social justice in ways that are deeply grounded in lived experience and community.”

Since Daniel and Marcia Minter founded Indigo Arts Alliance in 2018 and opened the Indigo Arts studio on Cove Street a year later, dozens of artists in residence from around the world have participated in the arts incubator program. Several have been Mainers here to stay – among them, jewelry designer Ebenezer Akakpo, textile artist Jordan Carey, painter Shane Charles, songwriter Samuel James and jazz singer Viva.

“Indigo Arts made this a community worth staying in,” Viva said, explaining that she didn’t have her first Black teacher until 2021 when James was her residency mentor. “And it took my career to another level.”


Most artists in residence, including Chief Janice George, a Squamish Nation master weaver and textile artist from Vancouver, British Columbia, travel to Maine for the opportunity.

“I love that it’s a Black and Brown artists alliance,” George said. “I get to see more cultures. And I feel like we all have spirituality in common, how we feel about art.”’

Indigo Arts offers both short-term mentorship residencies and seasonal fellowships, with video and photography artists, textile artists and dancers in the studio this spring and summer.

Beyond residencies, Indigo Arts is hosting an African diaspora symposium called “Art in the Wake: Reckoning and Re-membering” May 19 and 20 at the studios on Cove Street. The event is in partnership with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture and Atlantic Black Box. Registration is via

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at

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