Ron Fortier

Common Ground

A Collection of Community Stories

February 20, 2023

IN-FOCUS ARTICLE: A Collection of Community Stories

Since just before the Pandemic, at the invitation of Dr. Akeia de Barros Gomes, The Artists Index began working in collaboration with the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Common Ground Project. But, in June of 20121, Dr. Gomes was offered a position at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Connecticut.

In the interim between her departure and the arrival of Dr. Naomi Slipp, at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, as the Douglas and Cynthia Crocker Endowed Chair for the Chief Curator, we had the pleasure to work with her and prior to her arrival, under the guidance of Michael Lapides, the Director of Digital Engagement at the Museum.

The Artists Index is also working in collaboration with the Museum to incorporate our In-Focus Podcasts into the Museum’s database. To date, we have completed nearly 140 podcasts, over forty of those podcasts are included in the Museum’s current Common Ground: Community Stories, which opened on January 26, 2023, and runs through August 6, 2023.

This a multi-year project focused on collecting and sharing stories that helped to paint a more comprehensive picture of Greater New Bedford. The exhibition also incorporates the gathering of short audio, image, and text documentation.

The collaborative story-gathering initiative and culminating exhibit will reflect a comprehensive view of the community’s shared experiences of their lives and culture. It’s an enduring history of our continually evolving communities which, are and have been diverse and dynamic contributors to this human mosaic.

The exhibit also features many of the conversations with South Coast artists on the In-Focus Podcasts. These individuals are just a portion of the individual visual, performing, and literary artists that define the area’s recognized nationally creative community. Among the artists featured are:

Lyn Dillies, Rhonda Fazio, Scott Bishop, Christine Maiato FitzGerald, Frank Grace, Dena Haden, Catherine Carter, Don Wilkinson, Patrice Tiedemann, John Jameson, Dr. Michael Rocha

The exhibition highlights how the individual stories and experiences of the contributors intersect to create the communities of the South Coast of Massachusetts.  The Artists Index website is part of The Artists Index Website Project, a collective digital archive for the creative community. Its primary goal is to record conversations with the Visual, Performing, and Literary Artists of the South Coast of Massachusetts.

The idea for The Artists Index was stimulated decades earlier by a newspaper ad from the mid-1980s clipped from the New Bedford Standard-Times seeking assistance from Mary Jean Blasdale who was the then curator of the New Bedford Whaling Museum until her retirement in 2006, went on to publish the Artists of New Bedford: A biographical dictionary (1990).

Common Ground: Community Stories

New Bedford Whaling Museum
18 Johnny Cake Hill
New Bedford, MA 02740




Our gracious sponsors invite you to celebrate the art of life of the creative communities of the South Coast!