Undergraduate Research and Creativity Alumni Profiles 

Huewayne Watson, B.S. ’09

M.F.A. Student, Moore College of Art and Design
Major(s): History/African American Studies

What research or work have you done since graduating from Buffalo State?

Since graduating from Buffalo State, I spent some time at The Nash House Museum as a research assistant to Dr. Felix L. Armfield where I conducted archival research to reproduce and exhibit historically-significant and socially-engaging photographs of twentieth century black Buffalonians. I then spent time in New York City after completing a graduate degree working as a painting assistant to Iona Rozeal Brown, where I assisted with daily maintenance of art studio; provided creative insight on lighting, color, and medium; measured and marked-off paper for inking; researched materials and supplies for exhibits and productions. My time in New York prepared me to complete an artist-in-residence with South El Monte Arts Posse in South El Monte, California where I co-conceptualized and co-curated three projects concerning critical history and questions of place and community while participating in SEMAP’s vacant lot series—“Activate Vacant.” From there, I participated in a week-long intensive training for cultural workers and community organizers at the Highlander Research and Education Center, which has since led to several other research and work experiences in the arts and education.

Can you translate your work for the general public?

As an artist/educator and scholar, I employ history and visual arts of diaspora in my interdisciplinary approach to teaching the history of captivity and maroonage in the Atlantic World. In doing this, I push students to critically examine issues of social and economic justice.

Combining practices of archival research, writing, documentary photography, and printmaking, my work attends to the ways that local black artists mobilized various visual media to create strategic ancestries in their contentious efforts at reshaping the city’s social, political, and geographic terrain. I underscore the concept of ancestor as central to multiple modalities of visual literacy including textile making, printmaking, photography, and painting that black artists created as part of wider contestations over culture and politics of public life in the second-half of the twentieth century.

Why did you decide to get involved in undergraduate research?

I always enjoyed and appreciated researching questions, ideas, and also learning about other people's research process at talks and conferences on campus. The presentations and discussions were always insightful and thought provoking. When the opportunity presented itself to apply for the Undergraduate Research Fellowship it seemed to be an ideal space to advance my skills and broaden my research interest in order to participate in future events.

How did your undergraduate research experience influence your career path?

While attending the New York State Political Science Association and the 56th Annual Meeting of the New York State Sociological Association, I met Dr. Christina Greer (associate professor of Political Science Fordham University) who, after attending my presentation, encouraged my interest in and pursuit of studying at the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS) at Columbia University with Dr. Steven Gregory (professor of anthropology, Columbia University) whose ethnographic research and subsequent book The Devil Behind the Mirror had influenced much of my own thinking about transnational identities. After graduating from Buffalo State College, I completed the M.A. in African American Studies at Columbia University's Institute for Research in African American Studies during which time my research interest broadened to include art and art history. The fellowship that I accepted after completing the M.A. brought me to the African American Museum in Philadelphia where I spent a year working closely with their Education and Exhibitions Departments on programming, project development, and grant writing. While at the museum, I conducted archival research on twentieth century African American artist Anna Russell Jones whose collection of visual art works, artifacts, records, and ephemera have led me to study her alma mater, Moore College of Art & Design, where I will earn the M.F.A. degree in May 2018.

Describe the research you did and if you presented it at any professional conference, juried art exhibit, or other off-campus location.

As an ungraduated research fellow, I combined methodologies in urban studies and cultural anthropology to examine transnational conflicts between immigrant communities living in the United States. I completed work on the following paper, “Identities in Exile: Examining Tension and Conflict Between Haitian and Dominican Immigrants in New York City,” which was presented at the Annual Meeting of the New York State Political Science Association and the 56th Annual Meeting of the New York State Sociological Association in New York City.

Undergraduate Research Mentor: Dr. Aimable Twagilimana, Dr. Felix L. Armfield