One Greek poet. One African-American artist. One intrepid professor. How Robert O’Meally brought Romare Bearden back to Harlem.
From Columbia Magazine
A Man of Twists and Turns
The gods came down from Olympus in a line, nearly a thousand strong: Athena with an Afro, Poseidon as a dragonfish, Circe and the Cyclopes. Each was a burst of color in the darkness — vibrant blues, greens, yellows, and reds, painted on crackling paper and mounted on a boxy frame, illuminated from the inside. They were carried by students, professors, parents, and children, making a spectacular parade as they marched from Morningside Park through College Walk on a warm Saturday night last September.
For many participating in the third annual Morningside Lights festival, that evening was a culmination. They’d spent hours over the course of a week spread out on the stage of Miller Theatre, constructing the lanterns in an experiment in collective art-making. Schoolchildren came in class groups; undergraduates stopped by between classes; faculty and community members brought their families. In a creative game of telephone, people started projects and then handed them off to the next group when they left, with notes that said, “Hi. Can you please transform me into a dragonfish?” or “Please finish this in rainbow colors. Extras: Has a monocle; also a moustache.”
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