It begins with water. Bodies immersed stretch and float. A reduction of gravity is unleashed, taking a load off. Freedom in water.  Body of water.  Bodies in water. Joy from the release of weight. Water can also be tempestuous, violent, impossible to control. Beaches. Pools. Restriction. Regulation. Confronting racial segregation. Land and water made public for all.Image Courtesy of Mary Ellen Strom and Danielle Abrams

Freedom in Water, Body of Water, Bodies in Water (Colloquium)

We are shocked and saddened to learn of the untimely death of beloved artist and educator, Danielle Abrams. In accordance with her family’s wishes, Danielle Abrams’ and Mary Ellen Strom’s exhibition, Rights Along the Shore, will be on view in the Mills Gallery at Boston Center for the Arts until May 28 as originally intended. We hope that this will provide Danielle’s friends, family, and colleagues the necessary space to gather, remember, and reflect upon Danielle’s life and work.

*For more information, please contact Heshan de Silva-Weeramuni at

Freedom in Water, Body of Water, Bodies in Water
Danielle Abrams and Mary Ellen Strom
With support from SMFA Tufts, we invite you to join a colloquium entitled Freedom in Water, Body of Water, Bodies in Water on our campus for open discussion about the research and experiences behind Rights Along the Shore.

Artists Mary Ellen Strom, Danielle Abrams have invited four esteemed speakers who will address the topic of spatial justice in public spaces, particularly the history and present-day experience at public swimming sites: 

  • Kim Janey, former Mayor of the City of Boston and former Boston City Councilor
  • Margarita Kuleva, artist and sociologist from St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Alonso Nichols, photographer and media artist
  • Leon Rock, journalist and NAACP Youth Affairs Advisor, 1975

Public Programs Associated with Rights Along the Shore:

Freedom in Water, Body of Water, Bodies in Water (Colloquium)
Friday, April 15, 1-4pm
Plaza Theatre at Boston Center for the Arts,
539 Tremont St.
Boston, MA 02116

Following the colloquium, guests are invited to walkthrough the exhibition with the artists at the Mills Gallery, 551 Tremont Street, Boston. 

Opening Reception and Performance
Friday, April 22,  6-9 pm with a Live Performance at 7 pm.

Rights Along the Shore is On View:

April 2 —May 28, 2022
Open: Wednesday—Saturday, 1pm—6pm
BCA Mills Gallery, 551 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02116

Rights Along the Shore proposes a reconsideration of segregated swimming sites in Northern and Southern US locations, specifically the social transformation and social costs ignited by the NAACP-organized “wade-in” resistance at South Boston’s Carson Beach in the summer of 1975.

Rights Along the Shore is a conceptual and collaborative exhibition that examines the long-term effects of racially segregated swimming sites within the Northern and Southern United States. It follows the trajectory of Abrams’ and Strom’s series titled “Wade Ins,” research-based projects that employ participatory practices to examine recreational segregation in the South and de-facto segregation in the North. 

To produce this project, Abrams and Strom have had the honor to be in conversation with many neighbors, organizers, activists, writers, and educators including:

  • Leon Rock, Journalist and NAACP Youth Affairs Advisor, 1975
  • Michael Patrick McDonald, writer, educator and activist author of All Souls: A Family Story from Southie and advocate for survivor families in Boston’s anti-violence movement
  • Alicia Baez, former Roxbury resident who attended South Boston High School
  • Caitlyn Murphy, South Boston resident, educator and youth advocate; and leaders and participants in South Boston Neighborhood House’s after school programs, among others. 

Rights Along the Shore is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Margaret Rose Vendryes.

  1. Washington Evening Star Photo Archive: Pool manager Kermit Stewart looks over the drained Anacostia pool after it was closed in June 1949. Performance and video from WATERMARK: ANACOSTIA POOL 1949-2022 by Danielle Abrams and Mary Ellen Strom
  2. Performance and video from RIGHTS ALONG THE SHORE by Danielle Abrams and Mary Ellen Strom. Boston Globe Photo Archive: 1975 picnic protest to desegregate Carson Beach, photo by George Rizer, Globe Staff, The Boston Globe.



People aged 12+ must show proof of full vaccination.
Bring one of these five things with you to show proof of vaccination.

Masks are also required.