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James Weldon Johnson Foundation Artists-in-Residence Exhibition

January 29 - March 9, 2018


Daniel Hibbert, artist

Daniel Hibbert

Selwyn Garraway, artist

Selwyn Garraway


Susan Powers


Meclina Priestley

Cheryl Riley, artist

Cheryl Riley


The five artists selected to come to Great Barrington used the Berkshires as their inspiration to create new works in painting and found objects. During their residencies, which ranged from one to three weeks throughout the summer of 2017, the artists created new work in a studio space provided by Simon’s Rock, and were also given access to the former home and writing cabin of James Weldon Johnson, now owned by the Johnson Foundation, located next door to the Simon’s Rock campus on Alford Road. “The idea of creating an artist residency program was one of the best ways I could think of to honor and foster James Weldon Johnson’s legacy,” says the foundation’s chairperson and executor of Johnson’s literary estate, Jill Rosenberg Jones, “Partnering with Simon’s Rock has been the linchpin in making this dream come true.”

Artists Panel Discussion

March 2, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. followed by a reception.

Daniel Hibbert

Daniel Hibbert - The Line that Separates The Line Which Separates

My painting “The line which separates a witness from an actor is a very thin line indeed” is a visual representation of the James Baldwin quote in which the Harlem-born author and activist refers to two types of individuals in a social movement – those who strictly follow the dogma of various factions within the movement and those who “move as largely and freely as possible to the write the story and get it out.” The “Jenga” tower in this painting serves as a visual metaphor - some blocks in the tower are free to be removed and re added to different places in the structure (witnesses) while others are rigidly tied to the stability and support of the tower (actors).

Selwyn Garraway

Selwyn Garraway painting, Great Barrington Victorian

My specialty is watercolor painting of architecture, street environments and landscapes so I spent my residency exploring and discovering Great Barrington, and its immediate environs where James Weldon Johnson and his wife, Grace Naill Johnson, spent many of their summers at their beautiful estate called Five Acres. Each day was a pleasure to wake up early, gather my art materials and walk or drive around looking for that ideal older historic piece of architecture or vibrant street scene. Once located, I would begin by creating sketches on site and new works depicting various recognizable historic structures in town would emerge.

Susan Powers

Susan Powers painting, Pear

I feel so grateful to have been given uninterrupted time to paint last summer, it was a luxury and an inspiring setting. I was able to finish a series of large paintings of fruit, and then took the time to think about a new direction in my work depicting people in poignant situations. Finding ways to represent this helped me recapture the excitement and satisfaction of my early painting days.

Meclina Priestely

Meclina Priestley artwork, Nest

My work is a series of nests symbolic of the womb; Mother Nature gives us what we need to thrive. In the context of what our great African American leaders have bestowed on us, their legacy and hopes become our incubation to emerge new ideas for our growth.

Cheryl Riley

Cheryl Riley, artwork in-progress

I was highly inspired by my fellow artist-residents and the time to just concentrate on my work. The residency enabled me to flesh out alternative media for my series of Glyph paintings. I started with line drawings of the glyphs on sketchbook pages where I assigned meanings to each of these symbols. From there I created gouache paintings of the symbols on sheets from a vintage 1957 encyclopedia.