By Darian Burks, Division of Outreach and Community Engagement
CONWAY — The University of Central Arkansas Division of Outreach and Community Engagement will celebrate Black History Month with an inaugural Black History Month Art Show from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, March 8, at UCA Downtown. Opening remarks begin at 5:30 p.m.
This exhibit will feature the artwork of UCA’s phenomenal student artists of black and/or African descent, while commemorating Black History Month. The exhibit will be on display from noon-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, through mid-March. The gallery and event are free to attend and open to the public.
While February is traditionally celebrated as Black History Month, these UCA student artists agree that one month is not enough – that black history should be celebrated year-round.
“I don’t like to look at it as negative or sad. The reflection to me is more celebration or recognizing this is who we are, this is where we came from, this is for what we have fought and are still fighting for to this day,” said Monika Cunningham, featured student artist.
Cunningham is from Nassau, Bahamas, and came to the United States to pursue degrees in fine arts and marketing. “Back home, art isn’t seen as something serious or something you should do as a career,” she said. She focuses on the concept ‘art heals.’ “Most of my best work, from what I’ve been told, was from hard times in my life. Just find the area that you are passionate about that gives you a relief, and capitalize [on] that, because it can help you so much in terms of just being happy,” she said.
Another featured student artist, Trevor Dyson, celebrates black history by highlighting black inspiration and accomplishment. “I like to reminisce on the black inspirations from the past decades and our ancestors, to just shine a light on the black people and our accomplishments,” he said.
Dyson has not always been interested in art. His grandfather was an artist, which inspired him. “I like to be part of something bigger than myself,” he said.
Sidney McCoy, another featured student artist, has been involved with art for most of his life. But when he graduated high school, he wasn’t really sure what to do. He went to community college and debated between architecture and graphic design. “If you love art, then you are going to do it, regardless,” he said. He is now pursuing a BFA in studio art with an emphasis in graphic design.
Like others, McCoy believes recognition of black history should not be confined to one month. “We should be talking more about these figures all year round, and we shouldn’t wait for one month,” he said.
For more information, contact Kristy Carter, director of marketing for the Division of Outreach and Community Engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org, (501) 450-3118 or visit uca.edu/downtown/blackhistorymonth2019/.
Featured Student Artists and their Artworks
Martin Balsam, junior graphic design major from Little Rock
“Failed Commission Attempt,” 2018
“Self Portrait,” 2018
Alexis Claiborne, junior graphic design major from Nashville, Ark.
“My Beautiful is Black,” 2019
Monika Anne Cunningham, junior fine arts and marketing major from Nassau, Bahamas
“Prayer Changes Things,” 2014
“Raging Confusion,” 2014
“Worry Not,” 2016
Trevor Dyson, junior criminology major and art minor from Dallas, Texas
“Life After Death,” 2018
“My Beautiful Story,” 2018
Brandy Lucas, freshman art education major and creative writing minor from North Little Rock, Ark.
“Land of the Free,” 2018
“Natural Beauty,” 2019
Louise Mandumbwa, senior bachelor of fine arts candidate majoring in painting from Botswana, South Africa
“Yannis Davy,” 2019
Sidney McCoy, senior studio art major from North Little Rock, Ark.
“Day Dreamers,” 2018
Bobby Miller, junior art major from Conway, Ark.
“My Mother,” 2018
Kaleigh Monet Thomas, freshman art major from Little Rock
“Native Justice,” 2018
Adrienne Thompson II, senior art major with a minor in Chinese and Honors Interdisciplinary Studies from Pine Bluff, Ark.
“Hair Care,” 2017
“Three Portraits,” 2017
Ayana Williams, senior psychology major and art minor from Morrilton, Ark.
“A Sip of Soul,” 2018
“Broken Heart,” 2018