I was born in the 50’s in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, D.C. This was my first of many landings into a community of Artists. Beginning with my father, Julius J. Dickerson, an Architect, and my mother, Ann Stewart a creative zealot, the adventures didn’t take long to construct.
Around me there was a house being “remodeled” directed by my mom and dutifully drawn by my dad. Their 6 children (my 5 siblings and I) were the contractors and there was no ending to the revisions my mother concocted even through her 2014 transition into the afterlife.
I was discouraged from being an Architect but inspired into the Visual Arts by Peggy Cooper’s program, Workshops for the Careers in the Arts. There I met an energetic extended family of talented young artists who pushed me to exciting new standards.
College & Art Education
Out of that rich experience I began working in an arts studio from that teenage period through to college. I went to Simmons College where a nurturing and supportive community lifted me and fortified my dreams. There I found a special program in Communications: Graphic & Publishing Art. This elite program was limited to 6 students who balanced their last 3 years of undergrad with classes from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Though the Museum School continued the fine arts education I began, it was the Simmons Sisterhood that shaped much of my work. Shocked to find myself in an all girls setting after rogue high school years at Notre Dame Academy—I started to see the Black Woman’s movement develop in my work. Massachusetts College of Art provided the children’s book illustration & commercial art study. The National Conference of Artists (NCA) showered me with the cultural enrichment my soul craved. The boldness of Artist Dana Chandler, the fearless adventurous spirit of photographer, Reggie Jackson and the passion for media from Bob White fortified my journey. Dean Betty Rawlins gave us all a “College Mom” but it was her passion for education that lead to the concentration in Education in my degree and in my life.
After graduating I ran to home base, the infamous “Chocolate City” of the late 1970s and took up residence at Zenith Gallery, an artists’ colony. That experience was liberating.
THE CALLING: The transformative power of African American Doll and Puppet Making
Exhibition Book | City Lore Gallery, NY, NY | October 6, 2023 – March 3, 2024
Phyllis M. May-Machunda (Editor) | Camilia Bryce-Laorte (Co-Editor)