During the course of our Tufts Institute of the Environment Fellowship, we will investigate biased land inheritance and urban planning policies, environmental racism, and disaster capitalism using New Orleans as a case study. Specifically, we will expose how corporations and their factories are polluting the surrounding waters and land primarily impacting communities of color in the area. At the same time, the project will acknowledge the lack of accountability taken by these companies when climate crimes occur, displacing communities of color. And when communities of color are not displaced by (potentially fatal) corporate pollution or environmental disasters, they are left subject to decreasing property values due to their home’s proximity to these industrial plants. The decreased property values inherently prevent communities of color from accessing equity in their home that would otherwise provide them agency. Simultaneously, corporations in some cases inflate health concerns in an effort to buy property from homeowners of color at a lower rate than deserved. In every single one of these instances, communities of color feel the full effects of institutional and corporate power further disenfranchising them.
While family homes were lost after Katrina, the land that was once owned by plantation owners has now been redistributed and sold to corporations for the development of industrial plants. Timothy and I are invested in how legalities prevent families of color from accessing homes (many built by their ancestors own hands) while corporations profit off the same land that slave owners once did.
TIE’s, Environmental Research Fellowship will provide us the opportunity to work collaboratively, introducing aspects of our separate artistic practices as we investigate the impact of prejudice on land settlement and distribution. Our research will be impacted by an interdisciplinary methodology as we consider this topic from a historic, artistic, and environmental perspective. Our research will culminate in a comprehensive presentation, the completion of a socially engaged art piece, and video documentation of our time in Louisiana.
Willoughby is a Master's student at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts studying Fine Art. She expects to complete her studies in May 2019. Before coming to Tufts, Willoughby earned her BFA in Scientific Illustration from the University of Georgia. Willoughby has also attended summer art programs at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), the Parsons New School, and the Savannah College of Art and Design. in 2016, she served as a curatorial intern at the Huntsville Museum of Art. She worked for some time as the visiting artist at the Longfellow School in Great Cranberry Island, ME as well. At Tufts, Willoughby is a member of the SMFA 2019 Cohort Graduate Student Organization.
Current Studies and Future Goals
When asked what she found most meaningful about her field of study, Willoughby responded with the following: "[I find] exposure to academic discourse and theory, introduction to new contemporary artists and artworks, faculty advisor's guidance and mentorship, peers feedback and friendship, developing strategies for communicating on my art, opportunities to show work and meet with outside curators, and visiting artists grant opportunities that expanded my practice through travel to sites of conceptual significance to my work [to be the most meaningful aspects]".
When asked what interested her becoming a TIE Fellow, Willoughby responded with the following: "I was interested in the structure that is network/community building and is highly interdisciplinary and the opportunity to develop a body of work inspired by the research conducted and funded by the fellowship".
When asked about her future plans, Willoughby responded with the following:
"My time in the Masters of Fine Arts Graduate Program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts has fortified my interests in teaching. After I graduate I will continue to pursue my goal of teaching at the college level and an interest in curation. Artistically, my work will continue to explore aspects of colonialism through the analysis of the material culture and traditions of white upper-class Southerners. I am currently developing a body of work entitled “Progressive Portrait Puppets” which communicates with progressive identifying southerners on their experiences living within conservative majority states. In honor of each of the participants, a puppet is constructed to their specifications. The TIE Fellowship will continue to develop the dialogical components of my artistic practice and inspire future social practice pieces engaging with topics of racism and exploitation within the Southern, United States. Finally, the interviews conducted as part of the TIE Fellowship will continue to cultivate a network of politically aligned Southern accomplices for future work"
When not doing schoolwork, Willoughby can be found knitting, baking, gardening, jumping in the Atlantic ocean, and hiking.
Favorite Food/Drink: Fries, biscuits, fried okra, and cheese grits
Favorite Thing You've Seen: "White Fragility" (Robin Di ANgelo) and "In the Wake On Blackness and Being" (Christina Sharpe) , "Love is the Messege the Messege is Death" (Arthur Jafa), and "Unraveled and Unraveling" (Sonya Clark)
Favorite Place You've Visited: Elmina Castle, Elmina, Ghana