Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Display of Black culture and excellence

“Okala All is Black (Ghanaian barber shop sign)” on display in the Crossman Gallery exhibit of Embodiment of Ebony.
“Okala All is Black (Ghanaian barber shop sign)” on display in the Crossman Gallery exhibit of Embodiment of Ebony.

“Embodiment of Ebony: A Fusion of Art & Expression” is an exhibit in Roberta’s Art Gallery in the University Center on the UW-Whitewater campus that aims to show black culture and black excellence through both the everyday lives of black individuals as well as their successes. Four panelists discussed these topics and how they brought them together to form the exhibit, Friday, Feb. 27.

Black culture is shown in this art exhibit in a few different ways. The first being the center display that is a table set with a plate of food and labeled “Soul Food Sunday.” Honey Cawthorn, the president of Leaders Igniting Transformation and the main curator of the exhibit, explained that food in the Black community is important because it represents warmth and creativity.

“Within a black household, you can give somebody just the smallest and fewest ingredients and they can cook it with so much love and give it so much more than you presented it to be,” said Cawthorn.

Another panelist brought attention to the barber shop set up in one corner of the exhibit. Lee Barnes Jr. is a UW-W junior who is a member of the football team, the vice president of Athletic Black Excellence, and a barber.

Barnes noted that barber shops are about more than simply doing hair. He described it as an outlet and a form of therapy, saying that relaxing in the barber shop chair and having conversations with the barber helps the mental health of Black men.

“My clients may even fall asleep or we’re going to have a long conversation,” said Barnes. “I recognize that I’m doing my job if either one of those things happen.”

One panelist, DeLon Blanks, defined Black excellence by saying the following: “Black excellence is when black individuals demonstrate success through resiliency.” Blanks is a recent alumnus at UW-Whitewater, who served as the president of the Zeta Iota Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc., and membership liaison for Black Student Union during his time on campus.

Dr. Micah-Jade Stanback, professor of literature, writing, and film at UW-W, spoke to the music aspect of the exhibit. Of the records hanging on the wall was “Hard Core” by Lil’ Kim, who is an artist that Stanback used to teach about to her students.

“Here’s what black women stand for, and here’s how we’re going to tell our stories unapologetically,” said Stanback in reference to female artists like Lil’ Kim.

She added that in the time of that album being released, the mainstream did not see black female artists as being presentable, but to her “they were pivotal in defining and speaking about Black womens’ truths in America.”

“Embodiment of Ebony” debuted Feb. 15 and is running through March 20. Starting April 3, “The Garden of 1000 Faces: Behind the Garden Wall” will be on display in Roberta’s Art Gallery. 

The artist is referred to as Green Goodies, or simply GG. The exhibit follows her mental health journey as she navigates her Bipolar I diagnosis through the lens of the environment. There will be a reception April 16, with an artist talk at 6 p.m. and an open house from 7-8 p.m.

 

“Okala All is Black (Ghanaian barber shop sign)” on display in the Crossman Gallery exhibit of Embodiment of Ebony.

 

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Katie Zee, Arts & Recreation Journalist

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