MTCC Oct. Blog: Christina's Top 5 Collection Pieces

Mosaic Templars Cultural Center - Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Christina Shutt, director of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (MTCC), is passionate about preserving and celebrating Arkansas’s African American past, present and future. One of the favorite parts of her role is exploring MTCC’s collection of art and artifacts. “It’s impossible to nail it down,” Christina said when asked to pick a few favorites. “Ask me again in six months and I’ll have new ones!” Below, Christina shares her current Top 5 MTCC collection favorites:

1.Ancestral Dream Series by A.J. Smith

This piece is currently hanging in my office and I get to enjoy it everyday. Even more than the imagery, the subject matter is particularly impactful to me. I like that it is abstractly about the last stop for enslaved Africans before being forced onto a ship bound for the Americas.

2.Ambrotype of African American Woman

This ambrotype is one of the oldest items in the MTCC collection. The history behind it reminds me of my roots in archival work. This artifact was recently borrowed by Historic Arkansas Museum and photographed for the latest volume of Arkansas Made. It continues to be a significant piece in our collection.

3.Mr. Isadore by Ariston Jacks

This piece reminds me of the life of Mr. Monroe Isadore and his relationship with his community. At the time of his death he was one of the oldest living Arkansans at 107 years old. This piece is a great example of how everyday citizens can be remembered by history.

4.Runaway Slave Ad

I recently read The Underground Railroad, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Colson Whitehead chronicling a young slave's life as she strives for freedom in the antebellum South. This story has a deep connection to our collection in many ways, including this ad about a runaway slave. Seeing this piece of history makes stories like The Underground Railroad come alive.

5.Kitchen Item from the Mary Lee Harris Collection

Mary Lee Harris reused and repurposed kitchen utensils, some of which are included in the mary Lee Harris Collection. In my spare time, I’m an avid baker, and I will brag: I have won county fair ribbons! I’m proud of my first-place wins in yeast bread two years running and best of show. Seeing pieces from history that I also use daily make me appreciate this item on a truly personal level.

More about Christina:

Prior to joining the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in 2016, Christina worked at Hendrix College in Conway at the Center for the History of Medicine at Harvard University in Boston, at the Massachusetts Historical Society and at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Archives at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Central Methodist University in Fayette, Mo., and a master’s degree in library science/archive management and a master’s degree in history from Simmons College in Boston.

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