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September 2022 at the PBF

Heading into mid-September, the Peter Bullough Foundation (PBF) continued its events season with poet Sonya Lara, illustrator and visual artist Tom Manto, and multidisciplinary artist and activist Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrân.

Lara jumped in with both feet, sharing a lecture with Assistant Professor of English Jessi Lewis’s English 112/113 class at Laurel Ridge’s Middletown campus on September 19. Lara’s lecture discussed what literacy has meant to her throughout her life, beginning with speaking Spanish, Polish, and English with her family and neighbors in the city of Chicago and how it changed as she moved to the suburbs and such diversity of speech was seen as abnormal. As her education progressed, community college played an important role in Lara’s journey as she decided what to study and to pursue in higher education. Lara also discussed her own poetry practice, the poets whose work has been influential for her, and the life experiences that have shaped her work; in particular, her father’s sudden life-threatening illness and four-month hospital stay. Toward the end of her residency on October 6, Lara returned to Laurel Ridge to teach a session on poetry to a group of teachers and staff. She shared a broad variety of poets with the group and broke down the different ways that each poem discussed location; each participant was then encouraged to write about Laurel Ridge’s Middletown campus or another location important to them.

Images: a posterboard at Sonya's lecture at Laurel Ridge, Tom Manto speaking to students in the salon at the PBF and in his studio; photos from Manto's studio


Manto, a 2022 Rhode Island School of Design graduate, hosted an evening information session on October 4 for students and parents on the art school application process, offering practical advice on how to apply to different schools. Some tips included the ideal order for portfolio images - the best ones should be first and last - and what types of drawings to include in a portfolio - ideally drawings from life and not anime! Encouraging students to lean into what they’re passionate about, Manto shared that what makes each of us unique is what college admissions will find interesting and special as they review thousands of applications. Manto also offered the group a tour of his packed studio, which included a number of pieces in progress, from watercolors to oils. Said one parent of the session, “Great information… Tom was delightful and relatable. I think the information and insight he provided will be incredibly helpful to my daughter as she applies to colleges next year! Appreciate this being offered. It was exactly what we needed.” This event was generously provided for by First Bank and the Marion Lewis Park Foundation for the Arts.

Finally, Bodhrán shared Native history, terminology, and resources with PBF staff and discussed how the PBF might better welcome and work with Native communities in Virginia. As a result of the session, terminology and history on the PBF website changed, such as Iroquois Six Nations being replaced by the proper name of Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Bodhrán discussed the value of working with local tribes that are state and federally recognized. He also explained how Native identity is more than just a person identifying themselves as Native; it includes how their community and other Native communities identify them. The PBF hopes to, using Bodhrán’s advice, update residency applications to better reflect Native identities.

Following this residency, Lara and Bodhrán headed off to other residencies, while Manto was able to stay for an additional month, allowing the PBF to test out how longer-term residencies might work in the future.


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