VISIONS Exhibit: Black creatives at UM focus on the future

Students appreciate the artwork on display at the VISIONS art exhibit that represents the artist's interpretation of Afrofuturism on Feb. 10 in the Lakeside Pavilion. Photo credit: Reese Putnam

With more than 250 RSVPs, students waited in line with excitement for the immersive art exhibit, “VISIONS: Interpretations of Afrofuturism,” on Friday night. As Lakeside Pavillion quickly filled up, representatives from both the Black Awareness Month (BAM) Committee and Black Creatives Collective (BCC) educated all who walked through the door on their mission.

In collaboration with the BAM committee, BCC hosted their first student-executed exhibition on Feb. 10. The exhibit featured the work of eight student artists along with student performances and giveaways sprinkled throughout the night.

“I came here tonight to support my friends and their art,” fourth-year motion pictures major Mackenzie Beckham said.

Artist, co-host and UM senior Shane Shakoor displays his piece titled "Along The Way" in the VISIONS art exhibit at Lakeside Pavilion on Feb. 10.
Artist, VISIONS co-host, UM senior and Black Creatives Collective president Shane Shakoor displays his piece titled "Along The Way" in the VISIONS art exhibit at Lakeside Pavilion on Feb. 10.

BCC, a student organization in its second year, is dedicated to supporting Black creatives by providing resources and showcasing abilities through creative expression in forms of photography, fashion, music, art and film.

Every February, the BAM committee — a branch of the United Black Students (UBS) — hosts events to celebrate and promote awareness of Black history and culture.

The theme chosen for this year is “Intersectionality,” a term that describes how social categories like gender, race, ethnicity, sexual identity, disability, class and more interact to create unique experiences of oppression. With this theme, UBS hopes to highlight the diversity within the Black community here on campus.

Alongside the art at the VISIONS art exhibit, the show also displayed performances throughout the night, including Zanaiah Billups' vocal performance on Feb. 10 in the Lakeside Pavilion.
Alongside the art at the VISIONS art exhibit, the show also displayed performances throughout the night, including Zanaiah Billups' vocal performance on Feb. 10 in the Lakeside Pavilion.

The night was filled with celebrations of students, culture and art. With a vocal performance from second-year music industry student Zanaiah Billups and a saxophone performance from second-year neuroscience student Etienne Atangana, the exhibit highlighted the talent and expression of UM’s Black creatives.

The art on display featured a wide variety of mediums including ceramics, photography, and paintings. Some pieces stood out among the rest.

Wes Lucas, a first-year student from Philadelphia, Pa. studying media management, created a photo series, song and video titled “All Roads Lead Home.” The sharp colors and stand-out models instantly caught the attention of all who walked through, urging them to stay and watch the video playing alongside it.

Artist and UM freshman Wes Lucas displays his photographs in his piece titled "All Roads Lead Home" at the VISIONS art exhibit on Feb. 10 in the Lakeside Pavilion.
Artist and UM freshman Wes Lucas displays his photographs in his piece titled "All Roads Lead Home" at the VISIONS art exhibit on Feb. 10 in the Lakeside Pavilion.

His work explored Black elegance through the genre of Afrofuturism, the reimagining of a future filled with arts, science and technology seen through a Black lens.

“The juxtaposition between the models and their scenes is designed to raise thought provoking conversations,” Lucas said. “‘All Roads Lead Home’ is dedicated to the Black souls who sacrificed themselves to the land and to the ocean.”

A first-year student marketing major from Prince George’s County, Md., Wilfred Mbayu presented a photo series titled “Broken Reflections and Reshaped Realities.” The photos proposed a new way of thinking about Black history, encouraging onlookers to look to a future filled with possibilities.

UM freshman Wilfred Mbayu speaks about hiw work during the Q&A session at the VISIONS Exhibit on Friday, Feb. 10.
UM freshman Wilfred Mbayu speaks about his work during the Q&A session at the VISIONS Exhibit on Friday, Feb. 10. Photo credit: Jayden DeGrace

“A lot of Black art has been focused on reflections of the past and our traumas,” Mbayu said. “It’s time we stopped looking back and started moving forward.”

Sydnae Becton, a fourth-year student from Prince George’s County, Md. studying psychology created a series of paintings titled “Rebirth.” Becton’s portraits urged onlookers to view Black history and culture in a new light. In exploration of self definition the line portrait’s explosions of color captured the attention of many who entered the exhibit.

Fourth-year student Sydnae Becton
A UM student snaps a of fourth-year psychology major Sydnae Becton's painting at the VISIONS art exhibit on Friday, Feb. 10. Photo credit: Jayden DeGrace

The night ended with a Q&A with the artists where the students were able to share their stories and connect with the audience on an intimate level.

“Black people are innovating in terms of their sense of self. We are no longer letting society define us,” Becton said. “We are expressing ourselves in a beautiful and colorful way for future generations to come.”

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