The Black Artist Coalition’s annual April art showcase exhibited appreciation for Black and POC artists on campus Thursday, April 6. There were live performances ranging from poetry readings to DJ mixing and also places to purchase the artists’ work.
The collaboration between the Black Students Board and the Black Artist Coalition was one of many events scheduled for Pan-Afrikan week. The showcase was an opportunity for BIPOC students to share their art and receive recognition for their work.
Performances at the showcase included a saxophone solo, breakdancing, singing, rapping and DJing. Music included songs from local artists, such as G.lione and Julian Doaks.
Laila Monadi, a third-year studying biochemistry and vice president of the Black Artist Coalition, said the event is a great way to shed light on the community of BIPOC artists at NC State.
“[It’s] basically just letting people know, like, the wider BIPOC community, artists community,” Monadi said. “We are out here, we exist and we are a valuable safe space for BIPOC artists as well as people of color in general as well as artists in general.”
Kiersten Hicks, a second-year studying electrical engineering and president of the Black Artist Coalition, said events like the April showcase where students can share their artwork help support Black artists.
“Black people have to work twice as hard to get half the recognition,” Hicks said. “So the [Black Artist Coalition] is supposed to uplift and get as many people that are artistically inclined and want to see Black excellence.”
Both Hicks and Monadi performed at the event. Monadi sang a cover of “Camille” by chlothegod and sold some of their artwork, and Hicks read an original poem.
While Hicks said that performing in front of an audience was slightly daunting, she also mentioned how special the support and community of the Black Artist Coalition is.
“This is how I’ve met most of the friends and gained lots of these amazing relationships that I’ve made in the two years I’ve been here,” Hicks said.
Unique Patton, a fourth-year studying design and a member of the Black Artist Coalition, sold and displayed some of her artwork at the event. She said the group has supported and encouraged her throughout her artistic journey.
“Being in the [Black Artist Coalition] and having a community of supporters who are supporting you or rooting you on and saying ‘No, your work is great, you should pursue it, keep doing it,’” Patton said. “I think that gives me the fuel to keep going regardless if I get rejected or not.”
Patton said the inspiration for her artwork comes from her faith, her community and other POC artists. Patton had digital art prints and paintings available and provided cards with a link to her portfolio which includes public art pieces and graphic designs for various projects and companies.
One of Patton’s pieces on display was recently featured in “The Black Experience in Design: Identity, Expression and Reflection,” a book focused on the experience of Black and POC artists and designers in the field. One of the book’s editors was Lesley-Ann Noel, an assistant professor of media arts, design and technology at NC State.
The Black Artist Coalition plans to collaborate with other artistic clubs at NC State in the future as well as expand the artistic community to the greater Raleigh area.
“I want to hear more of the thoughts that go through the Black students here at NC State and even Raleigh,” Hicks said. “Because that’s what I’m trying to really do — expand this to the point where it’s a whole mass of people just trying to be like ‘Oh, I want to expand upon my art, I want to be well-known,’ because it’s really hard to get your art out there, and I want to help people with that stuff.”
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