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Don Singleton, second from the left, prepares to work at game at Wahconah Park with his Berkshire County peers.

State Athletic Association Honors County Umpire

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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A fixture on the baseball diamonds of Berkshire County for three decades has earned statewide recognition.
 
The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association recently named Don Singleton of Williamstown the 2022-23 Baseball Official of the Year in the commonwealth.
 
It is the latest in a recent string of statewide honors for local high school sports leaders.
 
Earlier this fall, Wahconah Regional High School coach and former athletic director Jared Shannon was named the MIAA's Unified Track and Field Coach of the Year, and Berkshire County Nordic Ski League director Joe Miller was awarded the MIAA's Distinguished Service Award.
 
Baseball's Singleton stands out for his even temperament and ability to communicate with players and coaches, according to his peers.
 
"While his engagement with the community in general is obvious and very noteworthy, it's his demeanor that is most remarkable," according to a nomination letter from the Berkshire County Baseball Umpires Association. "Don's knowledge of baseball rules and mechanics are excellent but it's his ability to communicate with players, coaches, parents and other umpires that sets him above his peers. He is calm, friendly, professional and has a wonderful sense of humor, which, can help to de-escalate tense moments during games."
 
Singleton has been honing his skills behind the plate since joining the BCBUA in 1992.
 
His ability as an umpire earned him opportunities to officiate MIAA state championship games seven times -- most recently in 2021. In the summer, he has worked six Cal Ripken World Series, five Babe Ruth World Series and one Little League World Series, in 2005.
 
In addition to his efforts on the field, Singleton has twice served as president of the county umpires association and has served as president of the local youth baseball league in his hometown.
 
Since 2004, Singleton has been the BCBUA's rules interpreter.
 
"He is a teacher, a coach, a mentor and a facilitator," the nomination letter reads. "He is very approachable and non-confrontational. Don is firm and can recites rules when he needs to but most often will apply the rules of the game not based on the rule book but the actual game situation. All very positive attributes of a high school official in any sport. He has personally recruited and trained several members of the BCBUA."
 
The MIAA will recognize Singleton at a banquet at the association's headquarters in Franklin on Thursday, Jan. 18.
 
"Having been selected for this award among multiple candidates, you stood out based on your dedication to the sport and officiating credentials," MIAA Associate Executive Director Richard Pearson said in a letter announcing Singleton's selection.
 
"It is with pride we will honor you as a representative of this important aspect of athletic competition. On behalf of MIAA student-athletes, school administrators and parents, we thank you for representing all officials in your sport."

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Williams College Art Museum Debuts Emancipation Exhibit

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A new exhibit at the Williams College Museum of Art amplifies the voices of contemporary Black artists and their experiences of "freedom" 160 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

"One thing that people in the museum world think about about Williams is the incredible impact on arts leadership around the world and museums leadership around the world that Williams has had, and that is very much embodied in this exhibition," Director Pamela Franks said.

Emancipation: The Unfinished Project of Liberation debuted at the museum on Friday and will be on display through July 14.  The show, which includes works from seven different artists, is inspired by John Quincy Adams Ward's sculpture "The Freedman".  Created in 1863, this piece is one of the first American depictions of a Black subject cast in bronze and is dedicated to the 54th Massachusetts Regime, an all-Black infantry unit.

Artists Sadie Barnette, Alfred Conteh, Maya Freelon, Hugh Hayden, Letitia Huckaby, Jeffrey Meris, and Sable Elyse Smith reacted to the sculpture to depict their impressions of emancipation in the modern day with various mediums.

Curators Destinee Filmore, Maggie Adler, and Maurita N. Poole PhD gave a walkthrough of the works that ranged from somber and brutal to playful and colorful.

Adler, the curator of paintings, sculpture, and works on paper at the Amon Carter Museum, explained that the project started in 2018 and continued over Zoom after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Poole, the executive director of Newcomb Art Museum at Tulane University, explained that this only venue that is not in the south, making it a "very special" presentation that hopes to allow a variation of perspective and consider what the tension might mean historically.

"The methodology is different in terms of this as a traveling show because each venue is allowed to add additional materials to supplement the show to make it relevant for their audiences and we felt that that was particularly important because of the subject matter," she said.

"So it is grounded and inspired by a work of art from (the Amon Carter Museum of American Art's) permanent collection ‘The Freedman' which deals with a Black man liberating himself but then is also intended to be a broader conversation about what emancipation means within the context of the United States and the various lenses that people will have depending on their regions, their cities and towns. So for this version of it, you will see things that are very distinctive and kind of have an imprint of New England and Massachusetts in a way that has not been seen anywhere else and will not be."

Adler explained that the fact that it is a convergence of historical and contemporary work comes from the curators' backgrounds in both types of art.

"Artists understand precedent and they understand history and we think of them operating in a vacuum and in fact, that's not the case," she added. "There is a connectedness in terms of subject matter and in terms of artistic production that's on a continuum."

The artists were invited to reflect on their lives and emancipation, incarceration, surveillance, freedom, or lack thereof, in the 21st century.  Works did not have to directly incorporate visual elements of the sculpture, as the idea behind it was the driving force.

Filmore, a WCMA Curatorial Mellon Fellow and assistant curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said that having the opportunity to work on a traveling show is unique and being able to have the freedom to imagine the exhibition in the contest of Williams College and The Berkshires was "interesting and exciting."

"I learned so much about the history of enslavement here that differed greatly from the education I received as a seminar twice over throughout my primary school education and in college," she explained, adding that "lo and behold," the Berkshires are actually incredibly rich area for African American history.

Meris uses plaster and mechanical elements to create a kinetic sculpture that uses his own body to represent systems of oppression that grind him down and are oppressive in today's society.  His work "The Block is Hot" includes a cast of his torso mounted to a metal structure with a cinder block at the end of a pulley, lifting the cast of himself when activated.

He lives and works in New York but is from the Bahamas and of Haitian descent so this is said to give voice to the people to migrate to the country.  Poole explained that over time, he was known to experience things like surveillance, policing, and racial categorization that he was not used to in the Bahamas.

Barnette's work in the show is based on FBI files that document her father's surveillance because of his work for the Black Panther Party.  The documents are blown up and adorned with glitter, Hello Kitty drawings, and other theming to juxtapose "abolition and decommodification" with "celebratory materials."

"This is a labor of love that Sadie has created these with graphite and the redactions are original to the file but what she has done is created this system of protection of symbols and iconography, such as Hello Kitty, such as glitter, pink, the color pink, you notice that she requires pink glitter for the walls," Adler explained.

The tour ended in a burst of colors with Maya Freelon's large-scale colored tissue installations made of recycled material.  Her art is influenced by her grandmother who provided the materials for the installations and her godmother, Dr. Maya Angelou.

The airy, flowing works are interactive in the way that they can be walked underneath and sway in a breeze.

After Freelon's grandmother's basement flooded, she was inspired by the bleeding ink on the fragile tissue paper and wanted to challenge museums to allow her to fill the space with a common material that is made into a transcendence, Adler explained.

Also included in the exhibit is an early copy of the Emancipation Proclamation and a pamphlet from Frederick Douglass' iconic 1852 speech "Oration" From the Williams College Chapin Library of Rare Books.  The show is co-organized by the WCMA and the Carter Museum.

 
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