Lycoming College and Brown Library to present Local Black Heritage Project

The James V. Brown Library will partner with Lycoming College to present a Local Black Heritage Project. An opening reception will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. March 13, in the Moltz Rotunda Room at the library, 19 E. Fourth St.

In January, commercial design students at Lycoming, under the guidance of visiting artist Stephen Marc, worked with black community members on a history project that used photographs and artifacts to create digital montages of their family or community history.

Marc, a professor of art at Arizona State University, is a storyteller who uses photography to construct a visual interpretation of more than 500 years of black life, history and culture.

High school students participating in the project met for writing sessions with retired Lycoming College education professor Rachael Hungerford prior to the week of art workshops with Marc and Lycoming art professors Lynn Estomin and Michael Darough.

Community members were paired with design students to create visual representations of their histories. The result is a unique series of 18-by-12-inch prints that will be on exhibit at the library through the end of March.

“We hope this will be the beginning of an ongoing Community History Project that will involve individuals, community organizations and churches in collecting oral histories and preserving the stories and photographs of the local African-American community for future generations,” said Estomin, who was the project director. “Ten years ago, Stephen Marc and I had the honor of working with Mamie Sweeting Diggs on a project documenting the local Underground Railroad. We see this project as a continuation of the process of preserving and publicizing the rich history of the black community in Lycoming County.”

Community participants in the project are Sam Belle, Rahmin DeVaughn, Twila Dodds, Lucille Evans, Velma Grimes, Vanessa Hunter, Linda Jackson, Richard James, Curly Jett, Jane Luther, Curtis Ousley and Carla Ware.

Design student participants are Sara Anthony, Ethan Bierly, Sifa Blackmon, Megan Brad, Kelly Ciesla, Chris Connolly, Kristi Costantino, Stephanie Engle, Lauren Karol, Briana Riddick, Jessica Schote and Amaraja Sholder.

Lycoming College sponsored Marc’s residency, provided facilities for the digital art workshops and printed the final artwork. Community Alliance for Progressive Positive Actions (CAPPA) provided space for writing workshops with high school students.

“We are pleased to work together with Lycoming College to highlight the influential members of our local black community, as well as the work of the college students,” said Shawn Newcomer, adult programming coordinator. “Working together to offer educational and enriching programs is just one way the library helps open new doors to lifelong learning in our community.”

The James V. Brown Library is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and 24/7 at