Where We Find Ourselves

1. Would you know me by my hat? [listen]

2. Would you know me by my hair? [listen]

3. Would you know me by my work? [listen]

4. Would you know me by my scars? [listen]

5. Memento Vivere [listen]

Commissioning Choirs & Virtual Choir, Access for VIDEOS and PHOTOS:


Choral Commissioning Consortium Intro

Virtual Choir with Michael Intro

“The Outside Looked at Hard Enough is the Inside”

CHOIRS! Curriculum for the 2021-2022 Season.
  • Support New Music
  • This project is befitting of the time we live in – a strong message relating to acceptance and subverting the narrative by an artist one hundred years ago
  • Open to choirs of multiple voicings.
  • 5 songs, 4 minutes each (program one, several, or all five songs)
  • Reduced participation fee to adapt to compromised budgets (please help spread the word, if you can!)
  • Team includes: Margaret Sartor, Alex Harris, photographers, curators, authors; Dr. Sherry Boyd, Humanities Professor, North Lake College; Shantel Sellers, author and lyricist, Michael Bussewitz-Quarm, composer; with Tina Sayers, Mapleseed Creative Consulting, LLC.
  • 10% of composer’s commission fee will be donated to National Association of Negro Musicians https://www.nanm.org/about (NANM provides encouragement and support to thousands of Black American musicians, many of whom have become widely respected figures in music and have contributed significantly to American culture and music history.)

VIDEOS: Discover the Journey 

MUSIC: Rehearse and Sing! 

5 movements for a total of 20-22 minutes, based on portrait photos from Hugh Mangum’s collection. Participants may choose to program one movement, multiple movements, or the entire song cycle.

This will provide an online option to allow for continuity of the project in the event the school year is interrupted.

This project is also cross-curricular, and each choir will receive additional PDF sheet with prompts for the subjects of History/Social Studies, Language Arts, Photography/Art, plus possible additional subjects. 

Rehearsal tracks will be made available. 

Margaret Sartor and Alex Harris will be providing additional photographs from Hugh Mangum’s collection so that each choir can present a video montage of the photos for their virtual or live performance of “Where We Find Ourselves”.

Please read Margaret Sartor’s interview excerpt below for attributions to the above quotes.

“Hugh Mangum’s striking and insightful portraits offer a unique sightline into the lives of a wide range of people at the turn of the twentieth century, a turbulent time in the history of the American South. Even in the best of times, trust and empathy are rare between strangers; in an era of racial terror, the evidence of these feelings in Mangum’s portraits of people from all walks of life throughout North Carolina and Virginia, is remarkable. And the lives behind these portraits, like the scattered facts we know about the artist, are, in many ways, the more compelling for their incompleteness. The gaps in our understanding lead us to consider more carefully what we know or, more importantly, what we think we know. Hugh Mangum’s attentiveness to the details of his sitters’ dress, demeanor, and expression created portraits that allow us, by scrutinizing those details, to see into the deeper, invisible layers of human complexity. Or, as the poet Marianne Moore put it, the outside looked at hard enough is the inside.”

“Part of the mystery and loveliness of these images is precisely that boundary between what we know and what we can only imagine or hope. Published here for the first time, Mangum’s portraits and his multiple image glass plate negatives confirm how collections of historical photographs have the power to subvert traditional historical narratives. His portrait of the people of the American South during the rise of Jim Crow confounds the idea of the “color line” and the accepted narrative of separate black and white worlds.”

“Mangum’s clientele were racially diverse and from a wide range of economic backgrounds, and his multiple image glass plate negatives indicate that an unbiased and open-door policy existed in his studio. In an era of violent Jim Crow segregation, this racial diversity is surprising; that Mangum’s portraits are also as insightful, as democratically seen—as existentially revealing as they are—is extraordinary. The people in these portraits stare back at us across a hundred years of time’s passing, through the indelible marks of damage and disregard and yet, in their familiarity and personal presence, these individuals seem as though they stepped off the sidewalk into Mangum’s studio only yesterday. We may think the difference of a century considerable, but these portraits suggest that the distance between then and now, them and us, is a lot closer than we might expect. Hugh Mangum’s photographs point to the possibility of a better world than the one we thought he lived in, a world that may only have existed in the eyes of Mangum or people like him. His vision offers us a welcome perspective, a new way to imagine the way it was—and how we might see our way to the future.”

Margaret Sartor, The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University To see some of the photos, and more about the exhibit at Nasher, please go to: https://nasher.duke.edu/exhibitions/where-we-find-ourselves-the-photographs-of-hugh-mangum/

Lyrics by Shantel Sellers with Michael Bussewitz-Quarm, inspired by the panel discussions with Margaret Sartor and Alex Harris of The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, Dr. Sherry R. Boyd, and Tina Sayers.

Meet the Team

Margaret Sartor

Margaret Sartor is a photographer and writer whose past projects include What Was True: The Photographs and Notebooks of William Gedney (with co-editor Geoff Dyer) and the best-selling memoir Miss American Pie: A Diary of Love, Secrets, and Growing up in the 1970s. Her photographs are in many permanent and private collections and have appeared in Aperture, DoubleTake, Esquire, Harper’s, and The New Yorker, among other publications. At CDS, Sartor teaches the seminar Photography in Context: Photographic Meaning and the Duke Photography Archive. “Given the centrality of photography in our culture,” she explains, “it seems increasingly important to examine the assumptions that govern our understanding of the medium. In this course, students will analyze bodies of photographic work, taking into consideration their own response to the images, the historical moment in which the pictures were made, the personal history and artistic sensibility of the photographer, the tools of the medium, and the ways in which all of these factors come together to create a meaningful depiction of the world.” Currently, Sartor’s own work, as a writer and a photographer, focuses on her family and childhood home of Monroe, Louisiana.

Alex Harris

Alex Harris is a photographer, writer, and teacher. He has photographed for extended periods in Cuba, the Inuit villages of Alaska, the Hispanic villages of northern New Mexico, and across the American South. He taught at Duke for almost forty years through the Sanford School, the Center for Documentary Studies, and the Master of Fine Arts in Experimental and Documentary Arts Program until his retirement (professor emeritus) in summer 2019. He is a founder of CDS (1989) and of DoubleTake magazine (1995) and was creative director of CDS’s Lewis Hine Documentary Fellows Program. Harris’s awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography, a Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Fellowship, and a Lyndhurst Prize. His book, River of Traps, with William deBuys was a 1991 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in general non-fiction. Harris’s work is represented in major museum photographic collections and his photographs have been exhibited widely, including two solo exhibitions at the International Center of Photography in New York. As a photographer and editor, Harris has published sixteen books, including The Idea of Cuba (2007), Why We Are Here: Mobile and the Spirit of a Southern City (2012), with E. O. Wilson, and, with Margaret Sartor, Dream of A House: The Passions and Preoccupations of Reynolds Price (2017) and Where We Find Ourselves: The Photographs of Hugh Mangum, 1897–1922 (2019). He is currently photographing in the South with a commission from the High Museum in Atlanta.

Dr. Sherry R. Boyd

Throughout the years, Sherry has built a diverse career in teaching, directing, conducting diversity workshops, distance education workshops, and acting.  She has performed for Casa Mañana, Dallas Theatre Center, Theatre Three, and regional theaters on the east coast.    Sherry has taught students from elementary school through undergraduate students in public and private institutions. She received her BS in music, MA in theatre from Texas Woman’s University and currently completing her dissertation on Theatre and Distance Education for the M.A.  She graduated in August 2016 from Texas Tech University with her PhD in Fine Arts.  At present, Sherry R. Boyd is the Humanities Coordinator for North Lake College in Irving, Texas, a member of the distance education faculty professional development team and chair of the Teaching and Learning team.

Tina Sayers

Tina Sayers holds a Masters in Music, Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, and a Bachelors in Music from the University of Redlands.  A classical soprano, Tina performs opera, musical theater, choral and chamber concerts, and recitals. Tina served on the faculty of Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego as Assistant Professor of Vocal Studies.
In 2010 Tina created the Community Center for the Arts (CCFA), a non-profit arts education and outreach center in south San Diego, California where she served as Executive and Artistic Director for six years before moving to Saint Louis, Missouri in 2016.  Currently, Tina is an adjunct professor of voice at Missouri Baptist University.
In July 2020 Tina Sayers launched a new endeavor: Maple Seed Creative Consulting. Her goal is to create partnerships with artists, organizations and educators that will further her passions for social justice, faith, and the arts. These collaborations range from new musical works and educational curricula to designing outreach programs and providing (virtual) clinics.

Shantel Sellers

Chantal Sellers, a native of Michigan, is a historian and writer with an eye for the stone left unturned. Her work is rich in spirituality and imagery, often encompassing the plight of the oppressed, the miraculous beauty of the natural world, and the uncommon courage of the common person. As a Native American (Anishinaabe-kwe), Chantal’s greatest endeavor is to give voice to those whose history might otherwise be forgotten. Her work has appeared in numerous publications. She recently completed her first novel.

Michael Bussewitz-Quarm

The choral music of Michael Bussewitz-Quarm (pronouns: she/her) engages singers and audiences with the leading social and environmental issues of our time. Michael is passionate about effecting change through choral music on topics ranging from the health of the world’s coral reefs to the epidemic of gun violence in the United States to the global refugee crisis. Michael is an active advocate for the transgender community. It is her fervent wish to spread knowledge and understanding of the transgender community through guest speaking and by simply being present in the lives of the talented musicians and artists surrounding her.
A finalist for the 2019 and 2020 American Prize, Ms. Bussewitz-Quarm’s works are performed by leading professional and educational choral ensembles across North America. Recent collaborations include the west coast premiere of The Unarmed Child by Eugene Concert Choir and Orchestra, I’ll Fly Away at the International Society of Contemporary Music’s New Music Days in Vancouver, BC, and Nigra Sum, performed by The Duke University Chorale on their California tour. Michael’s works have been rebroadcasts on Public Radio East, KMUZ, and WCPE, with performances by Singers of New and Ancient Music, musica intima, the Gregg Smith Singers, the Duke University Chorale, the Esoterics, among other exceptional choral ensembles. Michael is published by Peermusic Classical. 
Current projects include Peacebomb, inspired by Laotian families who make jewelry from metal taken from unexploded ordnance, Where We Find Ourselves, a pandemic-proof choral project inspired by the portraits of Hugh Mangum, and The Death and Life of AIda Hernandez: A Border Story, based on the book of the same name that tells the story of an undocumented teen’s harrowing experiences with the U.S.’s militarized immigration system. 
Ms. Bussewitz-Quarm attended Ithaca College (BM ’94), for piano performance and music education, and received her MM from the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queen’s College in New York.