Published: Sept. 21, 2023

The CEO and creator of “the Museum for Black Girls,” Charlie Billingsley, and her co-creator Von Ross, have joined the University Libraries and the CU Art Museum as part of a new program for socially engaged artists-in-residence.

“As artists-in-residence at CU Boulder, we find ourselves in a historical moment, and we are humbled to be an integral part of this transformative journey,” said Charlie Billingsley. “We are here not only to create something impactful and beautiful, but to contribute a profound gift to black culture. In our residency, we strive to blend the echoes of the past with the vibrant hues of the present, painting a vivid narrative that resonates through time, leaving an indelible mark on the rich tapestry of CU Boulder's history.”

The Socially Engaged Artist-In-Residence program is sponsored by the Art Museum and the Libraries. “The program centers on new work by socially engaged contemporary artists who critique and defy patterns of oppression and cultural norms that disenfranchise communities,” said Sandra Q. Firmin, director of the University of Colorado Art Museum. “Billingsley and Ross celebrate the Black experience to help society build a collective vision based on social justice, compassion, equity, liberation, and mutual care.”

As a part of the residency, the artists will engage with the archival collections of the University Libraries’ Rare and Distinctive Collections and the Art Museum’s collection. “Artists have not traditionally been users of archival collections, but Rare & Distinctive Collections hopes we can break that mold with this residency,” said Megan K. Friedel, lead archivist and head of collections management and stewardship for the Libraries’ Rare & Distinctive Collections. “We are deeply invested in connecting our resident artists with primary sources that can inform their art creation process and thereby put historical documents in dialogue with artistic commentary on social issues.”

Billingsley and Ross will present the work that they create during their residency in an exhibit at the CU Art Museum in February 2024, in collaboration with museum staff.  The artists will also work with the Socially Engaged Artists-in-Residence program to host collaborative workshops and public programming for CU Boulder students, faculty and staff in academic year 23-24.

Billingsley and Ross were selected by a nomination committee with representation from across the CU campus and regional art communities. The committee selected the Museum for Black Girls based on their work being grounded in the act of “doing” and collaboration; addressing political or social issues; demonstrating strength in creativity; and critiquing patterns of oppression and cultural norms that disenfranchise communities.

The Nomination Committee

The nomination committee for the Socially Engaged Artist-in-Residence program consists of:

  • Jessie de la Cruz, former Music and Recorded Sound Archivist and Assistant Director of the American Music Research Center, University Libraries
  • Karen Jacobs, Associate Professor, Department of English
  • Marysia Lopez, Program Manager, Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; College of Arts and Sciences
  • Marlene Palomar, a CU Boulder student, School of Education 
  • Kiah Butcher, Associate Curator of Community Engagement, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Cassie Clussman, Art Sticks
  • Mandy Vink, former Arts Program Manager, City of Boulder