Northeastern University Restricts Access to AAMARP

African American Master Artists in Residency Program Founded in 1978

By: - Jul 06, 2020

There is a long and complex history of the relationship of Northeastern University and Boston's community of African American Artists. With the pandemic there has been further reduction of the university's commitment to the artists on its campus.

“This is the promise they made to the artists,” Dana Chandler III—the son of artist, teacher and activist Dana C. Chandler Jr. who founded the African American Master Artists in Residency Program in 1978—told the crowd during the protest. “You were going to support the community of color. You were going to support AAMARP. What did you do during covid, during riots, during murders? You locked the doors. So guess what we want the keys. Give us the keys.”

The 14 artists involved in the four-decade-old residence program for Black artists at Northeastern University said the school had again locked artists out of their studios in the Jamaica Plain building and is trying to push the artists out of the facility.

In 1974, Northeastern offered studio space and a teaching position to well-known African American artist, Dana Chandler, Jr. Chandler used the studio for meetings and permitted other African American artists to use it. He became the first African American artist to display work in Northeastern’s Art Gallery, which was founded in 1975 with a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The 1976 exhibit was titled, “If the Shoe Fits, Hear It!”

The university established the African American Master Artists-in Residency Program (AAMARP) in 1977 with Chandler as its director. AAMARP’s mission was to provide awareness of the talent of African American artists and also those from other ethnicities. The program allowed budding African American artists to create works of art with unrestricted freedom. Northeastern was the first university in the country to provide an in-residence program to African American artists. The program became a success and renowned within the Boston community.

On October 4, 1977, the debut exhibition of the AAMARP was sponsored by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and held at City Hall’s former Main Gallery. In its first year, the program welcomed approximately 3,000 visitors, including children from local public schools who created their own art at the studio. AAMARP also helped sponsor exhibitions of the works of individual artists, including Arnold Hurley (painter schooled at Tufts University, where he received his MFA at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), Milton Derr (figurative painter and draftsman who has taught at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University for 30 years), and Rudy Robinson (photographer)