Celebrating Black History All Year-Round

In honor of Black History Month, we had a few Teaching Artists share their thoughts on the importance of black artists, why representation matters and how we can celebrate all year round!

The work of Black Artists excites me and ignites in me the feeling of pride and inspiration. As a performing artist and creative writer, art allows me to express my world through my own lens. As long as I can remember I have always wanted to be a performer. I write my own stories about my experiences, and about the people around me, and the people I knew growing up. Now I tour to different places sharing these stories. It is my way of honoring my ancestors.

I believe art is important for a community to see images of themselves, created by their own—whether it is their stories, visual art, films. spoken word, essays, dance, etc. Art gives us a platform to express ideas, give us hope and redeems the value of life. Art also influences behavioral patterns, principles, and ways of living that are the of a culture.

Imagine how proud Black children would feel when they see powerful images of themselves, and learned about all the wonderful contributions African American have made to our society—mathematicians, explorers, astronautics, great educations, civil rights leaders, scientists, supreme court judge, etc.
— Danielle Daniel

As a black teaching artist, I recognize how important it is for black and brown youth to see someone who looks, sounds, and feels like someone they can identify with and don’t normally see in that role. In a state with one of the most severe disparities between black and white communities, the call is even more urgent to create spaces for black artists to have equitable access to quality programming and training, artist grants, studios, workshops, residencies, platforms, and tools, so that they can continue to be the authors of their own authentic narratives.

Having worked in various schools and organizations around the metro area, I have seen firsthand the brilliance of young black students who are every bit as inventive and driven as any other kid their age, despite less resources and less support. I have witnessed students of color build confidence, community, and become empowered through the process of discovering their artistic self.
— Alexei Moon Casselle

Nowadays, the way I see life is like one big round-table or potluck of perspectives and experiences. Everyone at the table brings something great and special, and I think this is where being an artist that is black comes in. With the body that I have as my vehicle to navigate the world in, I have had a set of experiences that may not be like the so called majority — which means I will analyze, digest, respond and create from that lens.

Representation or visibility for artists of color is important not only for other artists to see but for those on the outside looking in that this life is possible, fruitful and beautiful, particularly for the next wave of young creatives and minds. You never know who is watching and what doors may open for yourself and others or who you will inspire.
— MaLLy