Students’ art honors Black History Month

Art hangs for a Black History Month gallery in room 2041 of DSU. The event, sponsored by the Intercultural Student Engagement Center, features artwork from WKU students Malik Reece, Darinda Reddick and Shayne Howell. The gallery will be available to view throughout the remainder of this month and the first week of March.

Julie Sisler

The bright hues of red, white and blue starkly contrast the pitch-black surroundings on the canvas. The outline of Africa, filled with bright colors and the detailed portrait of a young black woman, contrasts with the dark background.

“This shows that this is a person that is an American who just happens to be African-American,” Angie Link, office coordinator of the Intercultural Student Engagement Center (ISEC), said. “We believe that this piece represents Black History Month the most.”

The piece, entitled “African American,” is by student Malik Reece. It depicts a young woman with an American flag headwrap, with the shape of Africa cut out around her. Link chose this piece to be sent out across campus to faculty and staff as a promotion for the exhibit.

In honor of Black History Month, ISEC is holding a month-long art exhibit. The artists, all black students, produced various pieces, including paintings and sketches. The artists are Malik Reece, Shayne Howell and Darinda Reddick.

“We wanted to do something to commemorate Black History Month,” Link said. “Each of these pieces is symbolic to Black History Month and shows the struggles these artists and others have faced.”

The pieces cover a range of topics, including education, female empowerment, spirituality and violence against the African-American community.

“Darinda [one of the artists] works a lot with women and the issues faced by African-American women,” Link said. “She’s passionate about women and nature and the symbol of an African woman being a queen who is strong in her community.”

Howell’s “Balance” shows the relationship between two lovers and how they must balance each other out.

“I wanted this to show my perspective on black love and how a man and woman should support and grow with one another,” Howell said.

Howell’s work also used art to depict the impact of words on members of the African-American community.

“I wanted to show my vision on the words that weighed on us back then and possibly still do,” he said.

Reece’s “Unspoken Graduation” portrays a young black man in graduation robes with duct tape over his mouth. Link said the piece shows how many black men are told that they can’t graduate high school or college, but they will persevere and become what they want to be in the black community and prove to society that they can do it.

Link said she believes that the artists hope to show the struggles faced in the African-American community while also showing that they will overcome those challenges.

“In some ways, this exhibit has done just what I hoped,” Howell said. “I think the most important message [that the exhibit sends] would be to express what you believe in.”

ISEC is also hoping to put together a guided tour and question and answer session with the artists in order to learn more about the artwork and their messages.

“We really hope students will come by and see the artwork on display,” Link said. “It’s done by fellow students, and it’s in honor of Black History Month and the things that African Americans have done throughout history.”

The gallery will be open through the end of the month in ISEC’s office at Downing Student Union in room 2041.

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