Through a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this project connects Mills College students with local and national poets, performers, writers, and scholars to collaborate around transformative art and critical scholarship.
Led by Mills Professor Sheila Lloyd, We Are the Voices We Have Been Waiting For: Poetry, Performance, and Public Humanities is a five-year, multi-pronged project that brings visiting artists and scholars to campus, broadening the conversation for Mills students and building connections with our local community.
Beginning in fall 2019, the project launches with a series of artist and scholars’ conversations, critical readings, and lectures that are open to the public and hosted at Mills Performing Arts venues.
As part of We Are the Voices, Mills creative writing and literature students will work as community collaborators with guidance from Professor Stephanie Young. They will focus on building partnerships with local writers, literary groups, and publishing collectives to develop performance series, workshops, and digital humanities projects that use creative approaches to explore the transformative power of literature.
Through the Oakland Writers and Artists in Community and Context course taught by Professors Ajuan Mance and Kirsten Saxton, creative writing and digital humanities students will connect with local artists and writers. They will collect and curate material for an inclusive, revisionist history of Oakland’s vibrant artistic community. Students will partner with Oakland artists working in all forms—literature, visual arts, dance, theater, and music. The curated material will become the foundation of a publicly accessible online resource. This living archive will serve as a record of the city’s past and present as a hub for artists whose works have introduced new and innovative forms of expression as well as new approaches to community, sustainability, and progressive social justice values.
Founded in 1969, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest funder of the arts and the humanities in higher education. Their mission is to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies. To this end, they support exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as those institutions review and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, pathbreaking work.
In 2019, the Mellon Foundation awarded Mills College a $500,000 grant in support of the We Are the Voices public humanities project, designed to promote the local fine arts scene and build community around innovative forms of expression.