Letter from ALBA: Artists and Other Allies

August 14, 2021
By and

Dear Friends,

“Bringing the past alive” is one way to describe ALBA’s mission. Everything we do, from our lecture series and film screenings to our publications and educational work, is meant to underscore the relevance today of the historic struggle against fascism—a struggle that, we are convinced, can still serve as an example and inspiration to younger generations who are committed to fight for social justice, racial and gender equality, access to quality healthcare, democracy, and human rights.

Our allies in this effort are many, and they are spread across the globe. Among them are not only activists, scholars, and teachers but artists as well. In this issue, we are proud to feature the work of Tina Paterson, a Madrid-based artist who, for the past couple of years, has produced stunning colorized versions of Spanish Civil War photographs. As Francesc Torres explains, Paterson’s work appears to erase, in a split second, the eight decades that separate us from the moment when the cameras of Harry Randall and other photographers captured the faces of International Brigade volunteers like Aaron Lopoff, Evelyn Hutchins, or Luchelle McDaniels. The effect is disturbing, to be sure, but also uplifting and poignant. The colorized images, Torres points out, “directly undermine the perception that the Civil War—the most important event in twentieth-century Spanish history—is a remote historical occurrence.”

Meanwhile, ALBA’s small but dedicated staff and board have kept busy, unfazed by the continued impact of the pandemic. This spring and summer, ALBA offered several well-attended online events—drawing thousands of viewers—as well as our third online teacher workshop. In the late summer and early fall, we have several gatherings lined up in the Bay Area, where we’ll be joined by the courageous folks from this year’s ALBA/Puffin Award winner, My Brother’s Keeper.

As you browse this issue, be sure to check out the interviews with other ALBA allies. We spoke with Shannon O’Neill, the curator of NYU’s Tamiment Library, which houses the ALBA collection; with the founders of the UK-based Clapton Press, which is publishing a series of compelling books on the war in Spain; and with the author of a new history of Argentine brigaders. We’re also very pleased to feature a touching report on a mass grave exhumation in Spain by Marimar Huguet, and excerpts from Professor Joe Butwin’s oral history of Jewish American volunteers in Spain.

The last pages of the print issue are, as always, dedicated to our most important allies of all—you, our loyal supporters. We are so grateful for your generous donations, without which none of our work would be possible.

¡Gracias y salud!

Sebastiaan Faber & Peter N. Carroll, editors

P.S.—Give online at alba-valb.org/donate. Setting up a monthly donation is easy, and a wonderful way to provide ALBA with steady support.