Flint, MI—Natasha Thomas’s bio–which states that she is a writer, performance artist, political organizer, community strategist, and visual curator–just became one title longer. The Flint native was named Buckham Fine Arts Project’s second ‘Writer in Residence.’

“I’m excited,” Thomas said. “​​I really liked the idea of merging visual with literary art … I feel like it just kind of adds this layer.” 

Buckham launched its ‘Writer in Residence’ program in April 2021 with the goal of engaging “contemporary literary arts and Flint’s Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) community.” 

It’s a goal Thomas said she shares.

“I think people of color, whether as artists in the galleries or just folks visiting, are underrepresented. It’s not always a space that feels accessible or inclusive,” she said. “I really appreciate (Buckham) being willing to have that conversation.”

The residency requires Thomas produce written responses to exhibitions during the 2021-2022 season and create additional content on topical issues and her personal research, according to a press release. 

Thomas will take over from Shea Cobb, also known as Phire Sis, who was the nonprofit gallery’s first ‘Writer in Residence. ‘

“It’s an honor to follow in her footsteps,” said Thomas.

The gallery is currently fundraising to publish Cobb’s writings alongside images from the exhibitions during her tenure, said Michele Leclaire, Buckham’s executive director. 

Leclaire added that the gallery will do the same for Thomas when her term concludes in September 2022, the end of Buckham’s 2021-2022 exhibition season.

“Buckham will host two small group shows, two large group shows, and five exhibitions featuring a total of 13 concurrent and carefully paired solo artist presentations,” said Leclaire of the time between now and Sept. 2022. “Thomas may choose to respond to singular works or whole presentations. We allow for flexibility to encourage our writers to follow their creative instincts.”

Thomas, whose day job is as Genesee County coordinator for the Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health, said she also has her own goals for the residency.

“(MOASH) just got funded for a ‘Michigan Youth Racial Equity Council’ that will consist of youth between 14 to 24 who will be addressing issues of racial justice, sexual health, and reproductive justice,” she said. “So, the wheels are turning in my head about what partnerships can happen between Buckham and (that council).”

Thomas officially began her term as Buckham Fine Arts Project’s writer in residence on Friday, Oct. 29 and has already written her first piece in response to the gallery’s Entropy exhibition.

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues....