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.)

Guts and Glory: The War Train that Shaped a Nation

This project is part of a large exhibition which includes Iowa BIG and the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapid, Iowa. The exhibition is composed of large scale graphic panels about the exploits of the Czecho-Slovak Legion as they made their way across Russia into Siberia on the Trans-Siberian Railroad during World War I. First they had to fight against the Austro-Hungarian Empire and then Trotsky's Red Army. In some instances they had been part of the Austria-Hungary troops, later captured and housed as POWs in Russia, only to be recruited by Tomas Masaryk to join the Česká Družina, fight their way across Russia, take a boat from Vladivostok to the Western Front, and fight side by side with the French. In the meantime Masaryk is living in exile and working with leaders to gain independence for the Czechs and Slovaks in the Hapsburg Empire. It is an amazing story. I collaborated with Kevin J. Mcnamara, the author of Dreams of a Great Small Nation ( to craft a scrip for the exhibition panels based on characters he created, and original research. We worked closely with the curator Stefanie Kohn, who the a vision for the exhibition. It took approximately 5 months to paint and create all of the panels. In the end there were 25. The entire exhibit runs from April 7th, 2018 till December.  Here is a wonderful video about the exhibition created by Laura Formanek.