The Red Magpie

“There is always the temptation in life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for years on end. It is all so self conscience, so apparently moral...But I won't have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous...more extravagant and bright." Dillard

Rachel Marie-Crane Williams, is an artist and teacher currently employed as an Associate Professor at the University of Iowa. She has a joint appointment between the School of Art and Art History (Intermedia) and Gender Women's and Sexuality Studies. She is originally from North Carolina (the Eastern Coastal Plain), but she has lived in Iowa since 1998, and taught at The University of Iowa since 1999. Her work as a researcher and creative scholar has always been focused on women's issues, community, art, and people who are incarcerated. She earned a BFA in Painting and Drawing from East Carolina University and an MFA (Studio Art) and a Ph.D.(Art Education) from Florida State University.

American alternative/single creator comics and graphic novels have been at the heart of her creative scholarship for the past few years. Her graphic scholarship has been published by the Jane Addams Hull House Museum, the Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education, and the International Journal of Comic Art. Her current projects include a graphic novel about the Detroit Race Riots of 1943, a mini comic about police brutality,and The Prison Chronicles, a series of stories about working in prisons.

(Short interview for Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies Dept.)

These essays and comics have appeared in various publications for academic journals, activist non-profits, museums, and local publications. 

 Little village

This small comic was published in a special edition of Little Villiage ( in January of 2013. The comics edition was guest edited by Shane O'Shaughnessy.

 Women in Prison created for the Justice Institute

This was a small comic created for the Justice Institute's publication,"Incarceration Generation". The book, "... brings together commentary from 19 researchers, advocates, and people who have personally experienced the system to illuminate how mass incarceration has impacted our nation. Through their essays, this book highlights the specific populations impacted by mass incarceration, as well as the different aspects of our practice and procedures that propel these populations into the justice system."

Brewing Beer

This is a comic I made as part of a comics and beer workshop I gave at the National Czech and Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapid in April of 2015 as part of the kick off events for their year of beer festivities.

 A War In Black and White

A War in Black and White was published by Southern Cultures in the summer of 2013. It details the 1898 coup and subsequent massacre in Wilmington, North Carolina. Specifically I sought to explore the ways the editorial cartoons of Norman E. Jennett fed into the insidious machine of the democratic party in order to disenfranchise black men through fear and racial hatred.

 Girls in the System

This was a publication I produced as part of the Juvenile Justice series published by the Hull House Museum in Chicago in partnership with the Chicago Freedom School

 Men Who Could Draw

This was published in the International Journal of Comics Art in 2012. It is about the elections of 1898 in North Carolina, the subsequent massacre in Wilmington, and the cartoons of Norman E. Jennett.


The School to Prison Pipeline

I created this comic as part of a collaborative curated exhibit and outreach program called "Unfinished Business-Juvenile Justice" sponsored by the Jane Addams Hull House Museum, the Chicago Freedom School and Project NIA in 2011.

A Graphic History of the Juvenile Justice System in Illinois

This piece was part of a curated exhibit and outreach program called "Unfinished Business-Juvenile Justice" sponsored by Project NIA, The Chicago Freedom School and the Jane Addams Hull House Museum in 2011.

The Fork: Touching the Ordinary

This comic, published in the Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education ( is about my work as a volunteer in the prison, the death of my paternal grandmother, and the ways that both events changed my views of day to day life.

Can You Picture This: Activism and Public Engagement

This comic published by the Journal of Visual Arts Research ( in 2012 is about my work as an artist, activist, and academic and the way that comics became an important qualitative research tool in my work.

Black and Blue: Stories of Police Violence

This comic was published and distributed by Project NIA as part of an educational outreach project about police violence in Chicago.

Assata is Welcome Here

This double sided poster was created for a teach-in through Project NIA ( in Chicago after  May 2, 2013, when the FBI added her to the Most Wanted Terrorist list and increased the reward for her capture from $1million to $2 million.