The Elma Lewis Living Stories Project, which honors Emerson alumna Elma Ina Lewis ‘43, invites artists of all ages based in the Boston neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, or elsewhere in Massachusetts to submit original visual art pieces (photograph, painting, drawing, mural, quilt, etc.) responding to the following phrase: What Miss Elma Lewis Taught Me.

Submission Deadline: October 30, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the goal of the Elma Lewis Living Stories Project?

The Elma Lewis Living Stories Project, coordinated by the Elma Lewis and Social Justice centers at Emerson College, intends to bring to light the work of one of Boston's most important Black female luminaries in the arts, education, and civil rights, and simultaneously celebrate the work of hundreds of Elma Lewis’s family members, loved ones, elders, students, and collaborators. 

What does art and this call have to do with it?

This Call to Artists serves as the launch of the Elma Lewis Living Stories Project. 

Why art? 

Visual art is a powerful form of storytelling that can embody the vibe, soul, and heart of what the artist wants to convey about how Elma Lewis impacted them and their communities—and say so in their own tone, language, interpretation, and form.

Visual art and the exhibition of this art in community spaces is a powerful way to hold space with artists and their art. We hope this project sparks and inspires ongoing conversations with community members whose lives were impacted by Elma Lewis or who are learning about her for the first time. The project also intends for this inaugural Call to Artists, and subsequent exhibitions, to build and deepen relationships among those working on the Elma Lewis Living Stories Project, including artists and community members who wish to engage in this living memory of a core part of Black history, arts, and education in Boston and around the world.

This Call to Artists is one of many ongoing approaches within the Elma Lewis Living Stories Project. By collaborating in intentional relationship building with community members, this project hopes to move stories beyond the traditional cloisters of academic and institutional archival processes. By thoughtfully circulating these stories in the forms of artwork, photographs, video, and film and sound recordings throughout vibrant and interactive community spaces, people of all ages can engage with the legacy and impact of Elma Lewis.

Who is eligible to submit to this Call to Artists?

People of any age who are based in the Boston neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, or elsewhere in Massachusetts are invited to submit art. This Call to Artists seeks those who have a deep connection with Elma Lewis personally, as well as those who might not have known her but were deeply impacted or inspired by her work.

I am from Massachusetts but currently live outside the state. Can I still submit to this Call?

Yes. As long as you have a deep connection with Elma Lewis personally and/or you were impacted by her work.

How do I submit my art?

Submission Deadline: October 30, 2020

Please fill out this form:


Can I submit more than one piece of art?

Yes, you can! Just fill out the form with the details of your piece with every submission.

What happens after I submit my art?

Members of our Elma Lewis Living Stories team will review all submissions. We will inform each artist of our decision by October 1, 2020. We will then contact each finalist personally to discuss next steps for the opening exhibition.

How many artists will be selected?

The top 20 honorable mentions will be featured in exhibitions throughout Boston and surrounding areas through December 2021 and the first-place finalist artist will receive a cash prize of $3,000.


Upon submitting work, artists keep 100% of the copyright to their artworks. We will invite all finalists to show their artwork in an opening exhibition for the Elma Lewis Living Stories Project as well as other exhibitions and engagements in community spaces in Boston and other locations through December 2021.

If artists do not want their artwork displayed, they can send an email with the subject line “Artwork Removal” to elmalewis_livingstories [at] within two business days of finalist notification. If this request is made, artists will become ineligible for a prize or cash award. 

I do not wish to submit a visual art piece, but I would love to share my stories about Elma Lewis.

Wonderful! We welcome people from anywhere worldwide to share their stories about Elma Lewis for our Elma Lewis Living Stories Project. We would love to hear from you.

You might also be interested in applying to participate in our Elma Lewis Living Stories Archive Team. A Call to Apply for this team is coming soon.

For more information, please contact Tamera Marko at elmalewis_livingstories [at]

I have read this FAQ and I still have questions.

We are happy to hear your questions and discuss them with you. Please contact us at elmalewis_livingstories [at]