Michael E. Bell has a Ph.D. in Folklore from Indiana University, Bloomington; his dissertation topic was African American voodoo beliefs and practices. He has an M.A. in Folklore and Mythology from the University of California at Los Angeles, and a B.A. in Anthropology/Archaeology, with M.A. level course work completed in Archaeology, from the University of Arizona, Tucson. Since 1980, Bell has been an independent public-sector scholar and a Consulting Folklorist at the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission, Providence, Rhode Island. He has also taught in Departments of Folklore, English, American Studies, and Anthropology at colleges and universities. He has served as a scholar or consultant on numerous projects, which have taken a variety of forms, including primary research, exhibits, publications, school curricula, workshops and lectures, festivals, performances, and media productions. Bell has a variety of publications and media productions on topics ranging from local legend to the occupational folklife of shellfishing on Narragansett Bay. His book, Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New England's Vampires (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2001), was a BookSense 76 Pick and winner of the Lord Ruthven Assembly Award for Best Nonfiction Book on Vampires.
Holly Ewald is a studio and community artist who works in a variety of media, including artist books, collage, monoprints and mail art. She received a BA in Art from University of Oregon, an MFA in Painting from Brooklyn College, and has been to Reggio Emelia, Italy to study the Reggio Approach. She has been an artist in residence at the Millay Colony in upstate New York, Skowhegan School of Art in Maine, and New Urban Arts in Providence. Her collaborative work has been published in, River Styx 56, the Visual Word, Resurgence Magazine (Spr. 04), A Moving Journal, The Penland Book of Handmade Books; awards include grants from The Michigan State Council on the Arts, Bronx Council for the Arts, and Rhode Island Sate Council on the Arts. Her work has been exhibited internationally.
Ewald's goal as a community artist is to enable others to explore, reflect on, and visually respond to personal stories and share those with others. She provides a safe and creative environment, and shares materials and technical knowledge, as she works in a variety of settings with diverse communities and age groups. She has found a way to integrate her studio work with her interest in community using a process she calls, visual dialogue. Recent projects include exchanges between artists, Dream Books made with parents and children, and a mail art exchange between Pawtuxet Village adults and children reflecting on the concepts of freedom held by past and present residents. The exploration of Pawtuxet Village as a space with multiple layers of history and human relationship with the natural environment is part of her ongoing research for artwork.