Comic book historian Prof. William H. Foster III is displaying the diversity of African American comic book characters in the lobby display case during February. In the 1930s when comic books first made their appearance, African Americans were more often than not presented as mere comic relief, as savages, or were simply left out entirely. This exhibit showcases six comic book characters from the 1960s to the 1990s: The Black Panther, Storm, Mr. T, Martha Washington, Bishop, and Steel. They represent how much Black characters had changed in that thirty to sixty year period. Today there is a wider diversity of characters present in comic books, including a number created in honor of the first Black President of the United States, Barak Obama.
Matthew James Alexander Simmons will display his magnificent creatures in the lobby during March. Matt began his artistic endeavors at the young age of 5 and loves to draw, paint, sculpt, write, and build puppets. He never received formal training in making puppets, and he uses an assortment of materials. Matt designed his first puppet when he was studying theater at UConn in Storrs. He was assistant stage manager in the puppet play called Balloon and was inspired by the rich variety of puppets in the production. He says his ideas come from all over—pictures, dreams, conversations, and life’s situations. He studied at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, UConn in Storrs, and at MXCC in Middletown.