The COVID-19 pandemic began to spread as we were half way through this spring newsletter. Like many other schools and educational programs all over the US and the world, we hastened to make contingency plans for the near future and keep things moving along as smoothly as possible. In this new, unprecedented scenario, another event soon made us pause, in shock and disbelief. The sudden passing of Dr. David Driskell is one of those unfathomable occurrences that only those who came in contact with him can appreciate in all its magnitude. I think I can speak on behalf of everyone at IDSVA when I say that the memory of this great man, an artist-philosopher if there ever was one, will stay with us forever.
We have been lucky to have had Dr. David C. Driskell as one of the founding Visiting Faculty when IDSVA began its operations thirteen years ago, and as a regular participant in our summer residencies and annual Commencement ceremonies. His invocation at the start of each Commencement will be dearly missed. He was able to speak to many IDSVA student cohorts in a variety of different occasions, each time with a renewed sense of urgency for the appreciation of art, the world of the mind, and the richness of human experience. There are many beautiful thoughts he left with us, one being (as I recorded in a notebook): “art is the dream of the real: it’s not just what it is, but what we want it to be.”
In this issue of the Newsletter you will find a series of testimonies dedicated to the memory of Dr. David C. Driskell. Particularly moving is the one by Dr. Deborah Willis, famed artist and art historian, educator, IDSVA honorary degree recipient in 2017, a member of the IDSVA Board of Trustees, and a long-time friend of Dr. Driskell. This is followed by the words of the IDSVA Driskell Fellows, students who received the scholarship named after him by showing promise in carrying forward the mission of David Driskell to grow the field of African and African-American art and culture, and encourage worldwide community and equality through the making and study of art. One of the Driskell Fellows, Ras Selassie Alleyne, is the author of a video interview with Dr. Driskell taken at Spannocchia Castle during the summer residency of 2019, which we are pleased to publish here for the first time. I would like to thank all of those who have worked around the clock to provide this small memorial, as we wait for the time in which we can all commemorate and celebrate Dr. Driskell together in person.
And of course, there is much to celebrate in this newsletter, from the recollections of our first winter residency in Mexico City to the achievements of our recent graduates, our students, and our alumni. To all the contributors, the editors, and to whom is reading these lines, a sincere thanks.
Simonetta Moro, IDSVA Director