Blackwell School: Images and Voices from the Archive
April 27, 2019 - April 2020 at the Blackwell School, Marfa, Texas
Way back then, all my ancestors were born right here in the state of Texas, when Texas used to belong to Mexico… being in Blackwell was a reward. And it taught me, these teachers that I loved so much, they taught me a lot: they taught me to be myself, to be strong, they taught me discipline...
When my grandkids come, my oldest, my two oldest granddaughters and my grandson, the oldest, I tell them stories about everything, about Blackwell, you know. They say, my grandson, you mean to tell me Grandpa that this was only for Mexicans? I said, yeah. And not just Mexicans, Hispanics. And he looks at me, I say, every now and then there were two or three Anglos in school because they were poor and weren’t allowed over there. And we were poor too. And we say, well you’re welcome here. But other than that. And you can see their eyes and they water. They couldn’t believe it.
This project activates the image and oral history archives of the Blackwell School across thirteen public locations in Marfa, Texas. The Blackwell School served as the segregated elementary school for the Hispanic population of Marfa from the 1890s until 1965. Mural size images are accompanied by audio excerpts accessible via mobile devices. A 20-page newspaper about the school is being distributed at many cultural and arts institutions in the region and around the state. The project will be installed for one year and serves as an invitation for visitors to engage with Marfa's history and for community members to add to the existing archive housed at the historical Blackwell School site.
This project was made possible by grants from: the City of Marfa and Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation, and the generosity of many businesses and individual supporters: AEP, Aster, Big Bend Sentinel, Boyz2Men, Celebration Liquor, Cochineal, Convenience West, El Cosmico, Frama, The Get Go, Hotel Saint George, Livingston Insurance Agency, Lost Horse, Marfa Brand Soap, Marfa Hardware, Marfa National Bank, Marfa Realty, Moonlight Gemstones, Planet Marfa, Raba Marfa, Ranch Candy, Stellina, Water Stop, Dawn Balkom, Lori and Steve Benavidez, Shelley Bernstein and Alexandra Rau, Melody and Larry Crenshaw, Donna and Sherwood Enck, Rich Huarte, Chuck Loban, Patsi Maroney, Rusty Martin, Genie Mitchell, Socorro Munoz, Mr. Pena, Joni and Tim Powers, Wile Quintana, Cindy and Daryl Scroggins, Martha Stebbins, J. Tillapaugh, and Kathleen and David Walstrom.
Wall space for the public art mural prints were provided Elsie Abrams, Kenneth and Bo Beanland, Anita Bustamante, The Chinati Foundation, City of Marfa, Russell Guevarra, Ellen and David Kimble, Marfa Country Clinic, Marfa Public Library, Marfa Visitor Center, Miguel Mendias, and Mary Shaffer.
The Blackwell School Alliance would especially like to thank all of the former students, teachers, friends, and neighbors who have shared your stories over the years. Your stories matter.
Special thanks to the Blackwell School Alliance board members (Betty Nuñez, Mario Rivera, Lionel Salgado, Jessi Silva, Michael Wallens, David Walstrom, Kathleen Walstrom, and Gretel Enck) for their invitation and generosity on the project, as well as Sarah Vasquez, Elise Pepple, Gabriela Carballo, Los Texas Wranglers, Lionel Salgado, Betty Aguirre, Lourdes Aguirre, Carmen Espinoza, Lupe Mendias, Mario Rivera and Jessie Silva.