An exhibit showcasing local Black artists is now open to the public at Central Oregon Community College in Bend.
“Art is rooted in our soul, it’s rooted in my soul, and being able to see all the diversity with all the art, I think that’s important,” said artist Linda Jackson Shaw.
On Wednesday, artists showcased their creations during the “Black Excellence Showcase” at COCC.
“Most stereotypically, most students of color are always seen as one way,” said Afrocentric Student Program and College Prep Coordinator Marcus LaGrand. “We wanted to showcase their skill sets, and for the whole rest of this month, MLK week, as well as through Black History Month, the showcase will be here for everybody to come in and have everybody be able to engage and look at the wonderment of what these students can create.”
In a packed room for the gallery at the Pinckney Center, people came to view the artwork and the artists were welcomed to share their work.
“I kind of wanted to highlight what my mom represents to me and to me that a lot of growth, like the catalyst that butterflies go through,” said COCC student Melissa Smith. “So, I decided that was a good piece for her, and I really wanted to incorporate that sense of Central Oregon moss in there because she really likes nature, so I thought it was cool.”
There was digital and sculpted art, pictures carrying stories and meaning — which for some had ties to family — and other pictures representing heritage.
“My thought is that love crosses all those boundaries, and he is an amazing man, and he lets me be the African-American woman that I am,” said Shaw. “He never asked me to change or grow my hair or do something different.”
“That Black representation of caregivers baby wearing,” said local Josie Stanfiend. “So, that is why I put these pieces into the showcase, and again as a mother, it is just really important to me to have that representation in these spaces and reclaim our traditions and what came from our African cultures.
For Smith, the “Black Excellence Showcase” was about opening up the African-American Community to Central Oregon.
“I really hope that we continue to grow and people get that influence that they’re looking for and that we can help radiate that energy and that creativity from all the African American communities down here and hope that influence more people to create and just inspires people,” said Smith.
This showcase will be on display through February 24. Pinckney Gallery is located in Pence Hall.