Black History Month is all about celebrating Black culture and the lived experiences of Black people. In order to commemorate Black lives this year we wanted to focus on Black joy, Black healing, and Black laughter. Art is transformative and it has been used to share stories of culture, identity, and spirituality; but most importantly it has been used as a tool for healing. This year the Black and Latinx Student Union and the Black History Month Committee partnered with the Wellin Museum to curate a Black History Month Art Walk to showcase artworks that depicts Black spirituality, culture, fashion, identity, and lived experiences of Black people.
The artworks that resonated with me the most was the sculpture, i will never smile again by Vanessa German and the photograph, Phantom by John Edmonds. i will never smile again, resonated with me because it truly depicts the theme of this year’s Black History Month. The sculpture is rich in African culture and was influenced by the Nkisi power figure which acts as sources of healing and protection for the Kongo nation in central Africa. German's sculpture was designed to serve as protection against racism and systems of oppression. Phantom really resonated with me because it’s about celebrating Black culture. Durags and headwraps are such an integral part of Black culture and fashion, and oftentimes those things are viewed in a negative light. So, it was nice to seem durags being celebrated and shining the light on gestures and symbols of beauty within the Black community.
Overall, I think the Black History Month Art Walk was a very successful event. I think the event really spoke to the audience and conveyed the message we were trying to send. Those who attended the event expressed that they learned a lot in terms of Black culture and identity and appreciated seeing all of the art the Wellin has to offer. We are experiencing trying times right now, so I know high attendance wasn’t completely attainable. However, if we were to do this again, I would work on promoting the event more in hopes of a greater turnout. Although we are still facing a pandemic, we were able to curate an inspirational collection that represents Black joy, Black healing, and Black laughter, and we hope we can do it again for next year’s Black History Month.
Hamilton student Josh Zeledon '23 leads Black History Month Art Walk.
Photo credit: Caroline Washington '21