Artists in the AAS Archive: New Series on the AAS Artist Fellowships

In April, we published an article in honor of National Poetry Month, entitled “Poets in the AAS Archive.” In this same thread, we are pleased to share our plans now to create a new series on Past is Present dedicated to our artist fellows.

This new series will spotlight the work of current and past fellows alike, highlighting their rich and diverse research projects and showcasing the wonderful work produced as a result of the fellowship they were awarded. When appropriate, artist contributions to “Artists in the AAS Archive” will not only be shared here but also on our YouTube channel and related social media.

The first artist fellows arrived at the American Antiquarian Society in the Fall 1995, and this year we will celebrate the program’s 25th anniversary. Creative and Performing Artist and Writers Fellows have included fiction writers, poets, playwrights, visual artists, sculptors, performance artists, and musicians, as well as non-fiction writers, documentary filmmakers, and journalists–anyone seeking to create original works based upon American history and present them to non-academic audiences and readers. We are proud of our fellows and the contributions they have made both to AAS and to their respective communities.  This fall, we plan to launch a new online exhibition and program dedicated to these fellows called Artists in the Archive: Twenty-five years of Artist Fellows at the American Antiquarian Society.

To help launch this new series and to set up the exhibition, today we are sharing the work of three artist fellows: Brece Honeycutt, David Mills, and Margaret Rozga.  In the videos that follow, the fellows share their work, their experiences at AAS, and their inspiration and methods.  We are delighted to share these wonderful artists’ work with you and hope you enjoy them!

Brece Honeycutt

In our first video, Brece Honeycutt discusses her experiences with the AAS collection and her process from research and note-taking to conception and development as she creates both sculpture and installation pieces. One of her interests lies with plants and how they been written about historically. Here, Honeycutt shares stories about some of the works she examined, as well as her ideas on and work with weeds and weavings. She also offers a glimpse inside her studio and fieldwork.

Brece Honeycutt, a 2019-2020 William Randolph Hearst Fellow for Creative and Performing Arts at the American Antiquarian Society, discusses the process of applying for a fellowship, researching at the American Antiquarian Society and making artwork in her studio. During her Fellowship, she examined over 140 books and collections, yet it was the unexpected viewing of Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio by Howard Jones and family that led to her current studio work based on materials used by birds when constructing their nests.

More information about Brece Honeycutt’s work maybe found on her website:

David Mills

The next video is an excerpt from a reading performed by poet David Mills. In this clip, David reads his original poem “The Cooper of Sandwich,” from his chapbook After Mistic, published by New Feral in 2020.

During his William Randolph Hearst Foundation fellowship in 2019, David researched slavery in antebellum New England—focusing on Massachusetts and on New York City, where the country’s oldest and largest slave cemetery is located. Here, he discusses his writing career and how the American Antiquarian Society introduced a more focused archival aspect to his writing. David previously received grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts and Breadloaf. He also wrote the audio script for the Macarthur-Genius-award-winner Deborah Willis’ national museum tour and exhibition “Reflections in Black: 100 Years of Black Photography”, which was exhibited at the Whitney, Dallas, and Getty West Museums. He also worked on a play commissioned and produced by the Juilliard School of Drama and recorded two poems for ESPN.


Readers may watch David’s entire video, featuring an introduction and two additional poems by clicking here.

Margaret Rozga

Margaret Rozga reads “Jessie: The Bodisco Wedding, Georgetown 1840” from her book Pestiferous Questions: A Life in Poems resulting from her 2014 Robert and Charlotte Baron Fellowship here at AAS.

Jessie Benton Frémont (1824-1902), the book’s central figure, faces the troubling questions of race, gender, class, American expansion, American exceptionalism, and love as they shape not only her life but our history and national identity. Politically astute, disparaged as a woman who didn’t know her place, faithful to a difficult marriage, privileged, sometimes questioning privilege, a product her times, and forward-thinking, she emerges both as a public figure and private person in these poems. The book, Rozga’s fourth, was published by Lit Fest Press in 2017 and helped pave the way for her selection as 2019-2020 Wisconsin Poet Laureate.

More information about Margaret Rozga’s work maybe found on her website:

Published by

Kevin Wisniewski

Director of Book History and Digital Initiatives, American Antiquarian Society

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