2020 has been a year of introspection for many people, companies, organizations and industries across the country as they seek to understand the role they play in continuing or mitigating racism and white supremacy across the country. According to Xenna Smith, a fourth-year studying communication and the editor-in-chief of Windhover, NC State’s annually published literary magazine, the Windhover staff spent the summer seeking ways to rectify the role they play in perpetuating white supremacy in the arts field.
Along with Maya Mitchall, a first-year studying fashion and textile management, and with input from multiple Black organizations on campus and in the community, Smith and her team created the Perspectives Edition, with Mitchall serving as the project lead. The Perspectives Edition will make up half of the upcoming volume of Windhover and feature only Black artists.
Smith said they came to this decision after recognizing how Black art has been historically suppressed while similar European art is celebrated. She cited the influence of African art on art forms typically associated with Europeans, like cubism and expressionism, as well as practically all of the relevant music genres of today being rooted in Black culture.
“We decided that — in sake of fairness and justice — that we wanted to have a conversation about equity in art, and that creative publications need to acknowledge that everything that we do and everything that we look at and everything that we love comes from them as a culture and as a people,” Smith said. “The Perspectives Edition is our effort to start this conversation and tell Black creators at NC State that we see them, that we love them, that we respect them and we want to hear from them. It gives them a space that’s just dedicated to them.”
According to Smith, the Windhover team talked with the Black Oak Society, Raleigh’s Black literary magazine, as well as NC State’s Women’s Center and African American Cultural Center, to discuss their plan, the impact it could have and the community’s thoughts on it. Mitchall said she regularly reports to these groups as well as the other groups, like the African American Textile Society and the NC State chapter of the NAACP, as they all sit on an oversight committee for the Perspectives Edition.
Smith reflected on the title of the edition, Perspectives, and how it reflects their goal for the publication.
“We really talked about how it’s important for us to explore different perspectives in the art world because it’s really easy to get in a sort of echo chamber of what art you consume, whether that’s visual art, writing, music, video,” Smith said. “It’s really important to explore art from different ethnicities and cultures and races because it tells a completely different story. Everyone who makes art, their identity is a very crucial part of what they do and what they make, whether their art is influenced by that or evident about it, it’s still there.”
Both Smith and Mitchall hope that an edition of this form can continue in the future for Windhover. Since this is Smith’s last year at the publication, she hopes that it sticks and begins to represent other marginalized perspectives in the arts field. Mitchall echoed this sentiment, showing that maybe the younger people in Windhover will continue this idea.
“I hope this becomes a sustained thing: highlighting emerging artists and getting new voices out there,” Mitchall said. “Giving other artists more opportunities to showcase their talents and voices.”
Black-identifying artists are encouraged to submit their works to Windhover by emailing their piece to Xenna Smith at email@example.com. Literary and visual art submissions for all artists are due by Dec. 25. Audio and video submissions will be due at some point in February, but a hard deadline has not been set yet. According to Smith, every artist who submits to the Perspectives Edition will be featured on the Windhover website, regardless of whether the piece is chosen to be featured in the book or not.