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Thursday October 19th 2017

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By Artists and Healers May 30, 1944 – June 9, 2015 Anna Elizabeth Stanley Artist, Scholar, Civil Rights Worker, Agitator, Spiritualist, Humanitarian, and fiercely, loving Friend to hundreds of people

Anna Stanley playfully “framing” Rafala Green as they interwove humor and intense social activism in their artistic lives.  They also interwove various art forms in their many endeavors.  It would thrill them to see “Touchstone” Plaza used often as a “Amen Corner” venue straight out of James Baldwin’s play of the same name.

Anna Stanley playfully “framing” Rafala Green as they interwove humor and intense social activism in their artistic lives. They also interwove various art forms in their many endeavors. It would thrill them to see “Touchstone” Plaza used often as a “Amen Corner” venue straight out of James Baldwin’s play of the same name.

BY BETH PETERSON

Greatest of Thanks and Salutations to my friend Anna Elizabeth Stanley for her powerful work and great presence in the world and for her contribution to mask making, education, the fight for civil rights, justice, and perseverance of the spirit.

Recently at the South Los Angeles Powerfest, artist Al McKie of Newhood Order was printing 100 tee shirts free for the community with the message “I like Peace, but I love Justice”. These words embody the practice many saw in action through the life of Anna Stanley.

Born in Philadelphia, Anna grew up amidst many experiences both great and terrible. Her Grandmother “Ma Dear” was her strongest mentor and supporter and even moved to Minnesota when Anna began her years as a student activist at the University of Minnesota. She travelled to Mississippi to work for the passage of the voters rights acts and fought for justice at home as well, working with fellow students to make big changes that led, among other outcomes, to the formation of the African American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

Anna influenced generations through her love and care for children and respecting and nurturing their brilliance at a young age through her work at a preschool that brought together low income and high to moderate income children to learn together.

She was a scholar who loved art and theater and in midlife joined In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater to fulfill her vision of making puppets and masks to honor the Orishas and to uphold the connections between the human world, nature and the spirit world.

Anna traveled the state teaching residencies to create parades and pageants on the themes of cultural reclamation and peace and reconciliation with In the Heart of the Beast, taught many summers of Lake Street Theater Club with local children and played the lead in a production at the cusp of the new millennium.

In 1992 in Bemidji, Minnesota, she collaborated on a racial reconciliation pageant that just happened to take place at the same time as the civil unrest due to the Rodney King verdict in Los Angeles. She noted that the experience made her remember being a freedom fighter during the civil rights movement.

Anna began her collaboration and partnership with Rafala Green through the Phillips Neighborhood Gateway project—“Touchstone Plaza” boldly enhancing the southwest corner at intersection of Chicago and Franklin. Rafala envisioned and lead the creation of this monumental, multi-faceted sculpture/artistic landscaping, and Anna worked as an artist envisioning the art work on the children’s bench

The two went on to collaborate on an artist studio at the Lowertown Lofts in St. Paul and founding an art center in the site of an old school in Delavan, Minnesota.

Anna taught at an alternative school in St. Paul, became an Americore worker to teach reading and writing to immigrant children, led workshops and built a strong community of friends in Texas, and was represented by a gallery in New York City. There are no words to describe the wisdom, generosity of spirit, and knowledge that Anna Stanley shared with all of her students and her chosen communities.

Anna found great joy in her spiritual practices. In her final five years, she created an incredible community among the residents and caregivers at Providence Place, 3720 23rd Ave S, Mpls,. MN 55407 where she continued in full force while living those years with a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer. She crocheted blankets for the new babies born to the staff members.

Eighteen years ago, my own son was overdue and not moving forward being born. Anna talked to him and told him that it would be ok to be born that the world was a good place and people would be there for him. He was born by the next morning. This is just one of the many hundreds of lives who have been influenced by Anna Elizabeth Stanley’s fierce and loving spirit.

Beth Peterson is a puppet and mask artist, community arts organizer, and teaching artist at LA Commons, Inner City Arts, Music Center of LA County, and a course on Integrating Arts into the Curriculum at Antioch University LA. She worked for many years at In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre in Minneapolis.

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