Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Not Completely Dissatisfied

September 6th, 2010 · No Comments

Yes- I guess we unanimously agree that the National Portrait Gallery was filled with portraits of the white and wealthy. There were no representations of middle or lower class, or any people of color, which didn’t come as a surprise to me. If you weren’t royalty or didn’t have a consistent money flow, you most definitely had no chance of getting your portrait done; hence no people of color. I was however pleasantly surprised with the amount of portraits of women- I expected it to be much less. There were a number of beautifully depicted portraits of women in intricately designed gowns that probably made every woman wonder what it would be like to have been in their shoes. As I began to take a closer look at each woman’s face, I noticed a similar characteristic; a majority of them were extremely pale and emotionless. After a while, I began to realize they all had to same face and the only things that differed were the color of the background, hairstyle, and attire.
As I was just about getting fed up with seeing identical miserable portraits, I came across a portrait of Mary Moser by George Romney in 1770  


(Taken from the National Portrait Gallery)

Mary was an English painter and one of the most celebrated women artists. Very popular in the 18h century, Mary was known for her depictions of flowers and had been recognized as an artist since the young age of 14. I was thrilled to see a woman who was an individual and tapped into her own talent to make a living, instead of sitting upon hereditary wealth. Romney did an excellent job in captivating Mary doing what she loved while expressing the happy look upon her face. So in the end, I didn’t walk out of the National Portrait Gallery completely disappointed as I envisioned.

Tags: 2010 Melissa · Uncategorized

Mom, There Really are Jamaicans in London!

September 3rd, 2010 · No Comments

My experience at the Notting Hill Carnival was truly unforgettable.  I had always heard great things about this event, but I would have never expected to feel so “at home” in London.  Anxious and totally in my element, I was ready to tackle the crowds of thousands of people and celebrate my culture. There was sunlight, upbeat music, aromas of spices and charred grills, and a different dance party on every other block- I was in heaven!  It didn’t take me too long to realize that this culture didn’t only pertain to me or the people that were recognizably Caribbean, but also the people who’s appearances were far from it.  While standing next to an middle aged white man, who had a Red Stripe in hand and belted out more reggae lyrics than I knew, I realized the culture of London was very different than that of New York. 


In Brooklyn, New York, there is also a festival held annually to celebrate the culture of the Caribbean that my family and I attend every year.  Taking place on Labor Day weekend informally titled “The West Indian Labor Day Parade’, it is a day filled with great music, food, and beautifully embellished costumes- just like the celebration at Notting Hill. (http://www.carnaval.com/cityguides/newyork/ny_carn.htm) Armed policemen are scattered on each block ensuring safety amongst the very homogenous crowd that this carnival attracts.  Located in one of the better communities in Brooklyn, populated by a moderate amount of white people, I can count on two hands the amount of white people that I have seen at the carnival in the last couple of years.  This is why I was pleasantly surprised at the dynamics of the multitude at Notting Hill.  I grant that the inclusion of alcohol could have played a major part in brining so many different people together but, I strongly believe that that couldn’t have possibly been the only commonality between millions of people.  I witnessed people actually enjoying themselves; whether it was drinking, standing on outrageously long ques for food, bopping and singing along to the music, and even dancing in the streets.  It puts a smile on my face to know that there are people other than Caribbeans that have a keen interest in our culture; something that I haven’t seen in New York, or in any of the US thus far.



Despite taking forty-five minutes to escape the crowds and find an operating train station, I had a delightful time.  Seeing people of all different races, cultures and ages come together and enjoy eachother’s company was like a breath of fresh air, and gave me some type of hope for humanity- even if there were one too many Rum Punches involved!

Tags: 2010 Melissa · Uncategorized