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Nurturing artistic talent and reviving forgotten narratives: Indigo Arts Alliance's mission

Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2023

By Joanne Gibson, Ph.D.

Topic: Environment and social responsibility

Indigo Arts Alliance (IAA) is a space that values and nurtures relationships between historically underrepresented Black and Brown artists. The non-profit organization, founded by Marcia and Daniel Minter, is where artists share their practice and experience with other artists but also learn from each other, feeling comfortable to experiment in all modes of artistic expression. Even experimenting in ones they typically may not work in.

IAA supports all creative disciplines – visual arts, writing, and performing arts. Core to it’s mission, it embraces the African diaspora's shared history and experiences, including those affected by the transatlantic and Indian Ocean slave trades - all those impacted by colonization. They invite highly experienced, professional artists from anywhere worldwide (as long as they have origins from geographic regions noted above) to apply to their artist-in-residence program. These artists travel to the IAA's campus in Maine, where they focus on creating their art and playing a crucial role in mentoring and inspiring a local artist with whom they are paired on arrival. Artists practicing different art disciplines are often paired; for example, a photographer may be paired with a writer, artists of different age generations, or different experience levels. IAA also educates the local community by hosting talks and workshops that provide a platform for artists who have historically lacked visibility and exposure. This showcases the artists' skills and talents and allows them to reach a diverse cross-cultural audience; however, they are not a gallery or a performance center. Instead, their model prioritizes nurturing the incubation stage of the creative process and fostering professional connections.

"The issue that is most important to me is the strengthening of the African diaspora and all our communities because there is so much richness and depth and beauty that we share … and we can be so much stronger together."
Marcia Minter, IAA Co-founder


Daniel Minter is an accomplished painter, sculptor and children’s book illustrator. One of the signature programs of IAA is the Beautiful Blackbird Children's Book Festival, which seeks to educate and entertain children with free books, art supplies and live presentations of books read-aloud while exposing them to stories that feature characters that look like they do. Ensuring these books are readily available in underserved communities provides the opportunity for all children to learn about the Black experience. The hope is that reading these books creates empathy and cultural competency for non-BIPOC families and makes peers more welcoming to children from different backgrounds.


“Throughout my childhood, I never had books that depicted people who look like me, so I would go home and make images that had people that looked like me in them…. and representations of stories that I learned growing up in my community."
Daniel Minter, IAA Co-founder

Indigo Arts Alliance collaborates extensively to encompass its vision of building global connections for Black and Brown artists. One of their projects, Remapping New England, is an ongoing collaboration with The Atlantic Black Box Project (ABB). The partnership creates engaging programming for the general public that reveals true narratives about New England's historical involvement in the slave trade. While the rich maritime history of New England is taught and celebrated, many are not aware that vessels built in the Northeast were responsible for trafficking over 300,000 slaves from Africa. The dominant narrative that New England was staunchly abolitionist impedes the region's journey of historical recovery and the need to confront this history. This is an essential step for a more accurate understanding of the past. The collaboration aims to educate and retell history through guided African heritage walking tours of Portland, Maine, and an art workshop facilitating dialogue between participants about the challenging and overlooked local history. Through ongoing discussions on Memory, Art, Place, and Race, this collaboration raises awareness of New England's silenced history and shares new perspectives on the region's BIPOC communities.


Left: Tanya Crane and Aina Sullivan in 2022, pictured second and third from the left, with members of the Haus of Glitter after the panel conversation "ReMapping New England: Reclaiming Legacy" that they participated in during their residency.

Right: A live outdoor event held in 2021 for the 2nd Annual Beautiful Blackbird Children's Book Festival where Read-Aloud videos were screened for children in the Portland Community.


Indigo Arts Alliance’s work addresses an information gap in a historically underrepresented area, providing the public with the tools to connect past and present racial injustices, not just in Portland but also across the region.

New England Biolabs® recognizes and values the excellence Indigo Arts Alliance brings to empowering artists to inspire compassionate and welcoming societies.

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