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Empowering Artists Impacted by the System: Archiving for a Enduring Creative Legacy



RAG co-founder Kamisha Thomas (standing) and artist Reagan Baruxes. 

Credit: Mark D. Motz, Marketing Manager, Fitton Center for Creative Arts 


On December 1, 2023, the Fitton Center for Creative Arts in Hamilton, Ohio, became the stage for "Preserving Our Creative Footprints: An Archive Workshop for System-Impacted Artists." Tailored specifically for members of the Returning Artists Guild (RAG), including co-founders Kamisha Thomas and Aimee Wissman, this workshop was a pivotal moment in the journey of those seeking to navigate the complexities of preserving their artistic legacies.


The workshop, led by Steven and Miranda, delved deep into the intricacies of archival practices, empowering RAG's system-impacted artists and supporters to take charge of their creative narratives. Through interactive sessions, participants gained invaluable insights into the significance of archiving in preserving artworks and safeguarding related materials such as correspondence, legal records, sketches, and other artifacts essential to telling an artist's story. As a testament to their commitment, the archivists provided necessary resources, including boxes and materials, to aid the participants in their archival endeavors.


The Returning Artists Guild is an abolitionist collective of directly impacted practicing artists across Ohio and beyond. For further details on their initiatives, visit: https://thereturningartistsguild.org


Reflecting on the workshop, Aimee emphasized its impact: "[It] really opened some doors in our minds about the importance of archiving and the practicality of it." Similarly, Kamisha highlighted the workshop's broader significance: "Another takeaway [from the workshop] ... might be the extensive history of archiving across cultures. Humans have literally been saving or archiving our experience on this planet since the beginning."


NAP has been leading the Archiving Marking Time (AMT) initiative to provide archival assistance to artists, families of artists, and organizations associated with Marking Time (MT). The project was created by Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood and inspired by her book, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration. 

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