Ely Hall

From 1967–1969 artist Calvin Douglass taught painting and drawing in the second-floor studios of Ely Hall, where he staged the first exhibit of student work. Douglass also assisted with art classes at the newly formed Urban Center for Black Studies in Poughkeepsie. While teaching at the Brooklyn Museum Art School in the mid-1960s, he joined Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Richard Mayhew, and others in the Spiral collective, debating the role of the Black artist in the struggle for civil rights. Ten months before the Vassar Students’ Afro-American Society occupied Main Building in pursuit of a permanent Black studies program, Douglass marched with Spiral members and others outside the gala opening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Harlem on My Mind. This protest against the exclusion of Harlem painters and sculptors from that exhibit was a turning point in New York’s cultural history.