Student organization creates artistic platform

Julie Sisler

Whether it be inspired by personal strife or pressing social issues, oftentimes art presents an opportunity to share one’s voice—no matter the medium.

Austin Brown, the president of Blaq Art Nouveau, an organization rooted in African-American-centric poetry and its ability spark change, said he believes the organization creates a safe space for all forms of creative expression.

Osman Osman, also known as “Bam Bam,” the vice president of Blaq Art Nouveau, said the organization was started by a student looking for an outlet for their own artistic abilities.

“Blaq Art Nouveau comes from our former founders of the organization, the founder for African-American students who didn’t have a space to focus on their arts and talents,” Osman said.

To Brown, the color black holds great meaning in the organization.

“Black as a paint color is a combination of every other color,” Brown said. “This is symbolic for how we feel about creative expression, this idea that every art form falls under the umbrella that is creativity. We respect and accept every form of art whether it be paint or puppetry or anything in between.”

With a focus in self-expression through written word, the organization creates an opportunity to sharpen skills and reach new audiences for any students interested.

“Blaq Art Nouveau is a club that acts as a platform for members to express themselves creatively and artistically to audiences on WKU’s campus,” Brown said.

Brown said he believes this is an important asset to WKU’s campus and its students. To Brown, it’s the students on campus that create such a strong voice for the organization.

“This campus is full of artists who are passionate and dedicated to what they create. Each of these voices speak hope and strength into existence for others to lean on,” Brown said.

Brown said his goal is to enable these student artists and performers to reach a wider audience through Blaq Art Nouveau and its events.

“My job is to present as many of these voices to as wide an audience as possible, so it’s strength can reach whoever needs it,” Brown said.

The organization accomplishes this through hosting events such as “Blaq Art New-Old,” which will take place in Downing Student Union Nite Class on Wednesday.

“Our upcoming event very much focuses on black art new-to-old as we celebrate the creative expression of black America,” Osman said.

Brown said the event will delve into the progression of art within black America and its impact on the future.

“‘Blaq Art New-Old’ is an event celebrating the evolution of creative expression within the black America from slavery to the present,” Brown said. “We will honor the artistic voices that have given our people the eyes to look ahead and the strength to march forward.”

The aim of the event is to both teach attendees about the past as well as gain a deeper appreciation for the transformative journey of art throughout the years.

“I hope whoever attends this event will get a better understanding of the modes of creative expression that have shaped our people’s heritage throughout our troubled history within this nation,” Brown said.

Osman said he hopes attendees will learn the things not taught in schools.

“We hope that students gain a greater sense of black history, because we all know some of the most important topics in black history are not shared in schools or the educational process, as it may be looked aside from,” Osman said. 

The organization is also expanding its scope of events, as it is planning an event later on in the semester called “Carpe Diem.” The event is open to artists and performers of all varieties and will feature a prize valued at $300.

By putting on events and drawing in more students, Blaq Art Nouveau hopes to reach out to students and give student artists the ability to reach new audiences. It also hopes to welcome creators no matter where they come from or hope to go, Brown said.

“We are open to creators of all art forms,” Brown said. “From all cultures, from all walks of life.”

Blaq Art Nouveau meets every Thursday at 7 p.m. in DSU room 3007.

Features reporter Julie Sisler can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected] Follow Julie on social media at @julie_sisler.