An evening of Black art and expression

Black Student Collective’s art show provided a space for community and sharing for five local Black artists and the Hamline community.


Anika Besst, News Editor

The foyer of the Anderson Student Center was alive with art and conversation at the cultural expression event hosted by Hamline’s Black Student Collective (BSC) on February 11 for Black History Month. 

Five local artists were featured with work spanning a wide range of mediums from painting, glasswork, photography, jewelry and print on sale. 

Senior Alexis Griffin, BSC’s Black History Month Coordinator, created this event after realizing that during her time at Hamline, there has been limited Black art displayed, especially that of local Black artists. 

Darrell Washinton has been doing photography for seven years. In his work, he looks to capture the fluid nature of human beings. (Jacob )

“I’ve seen a lot of Black artists are not…represented in the community or other places as well, kind of overshadowed,” Griffin said. “I want a space where they could come here and just be open and show their art, anything they wanted, I said ‘bring anything you want, anything you think identifies you as your culture.’”

One artist featured, Darrell Washington is a current Hamline sophomore who has been doing art seriously for about seven years. His work is inspired by emotions and conveyed through the mediums of photography, drawing and painting with a topic of his work often channeling different variations of love. 

“We as humans can be really fluid throughout life and go through a lot of transformations, especially with the emotions, so that is in my work in different ways,” Washington described. 

Dizzy considers herself a multidisciplinary artist, working in many mediums to showcase their self- expression. (Jacob ‘Coby’ Aloi)

Another artist, Dizzy, graduated from Hamline in 2021. She enjoys exploring mediums of art, with painting and jewelry for sale at this event. For Dizzy, art is a meditative practice and she describes her work to often explore social justice topics and Black issues. 

“I’ve been playing around with that style and kind of just having fun with it and expanding it, and opening it up to share with other people as something that I kind of work with intention in a spiritual sense,” Dizzy said. 

Another Hamline alumni Tachianna Charpenter (2019) was also featured in this show with mosaic glasswork, glass on glass, and a couple of pieces of glass on bone. 

For her, the mirrors allow viewers to be pulled into the pieces, “to see [themselves] being reborn.”  Charpenter also explores the topics of grief and death after recently losing her mother. 

According to Tachianna Charpenter’s artistic
statement at the event, she views artistic expression as “A sacred way of healing and representing the stories within her body that are not written in a language.” (Jacob ‘Coby’ Aloi )

“A lot of my pieces deal with just that liminal space of like constantly being at the crossroads of being alive and dead at the same time and then the transition that your relationship with death takes on when someone very close to you passes away, and just the different forms that now your relationship with that person is,” Charpenter said. 

Another artist was Godfree Manley-Spain who is a UMD alumnus who has done photography for almost six years. After moving to the cities, he decided to pursue his art with a more serious angle. 

He went to school for mechanical engineering and after graduating when the pandemic started, it gave him time to consider what he wanted to do with his life. He also moved to the cities a month before the murder of George Floyd, which was a catalyst for him to learn more about his community and get involved in new ways while creating his art.

“I realized that art was kind of something that was just within me and I always just kind of found myself gravitating towards it. And I realized that I kind of wanted to make it a full time thing,” Manley-Spain said. “Ever since, specializing more with creative portraits, street photography, documentary photography, and honestly anything in between.”

Simone Alexa is a student at Minneapolis College of Art and Design and was also featured in this show. Her work explores the topic of representation inspired by a lack throughout her life as someone with Native Hawaiian and African American backgrounds. She often uses fantasy and science fiction, which are passions of hers. 

“Growing up there was a lot of lacking representation in art. And so I deal with the kind of trauma of not having representation and try to promote a lot of healing and empowerment in my work,” Alexa said. “I think it’s a really good escape and kind of inspiration for a world that we could create like in a lot of sci-fi, sometimes it gets like really dark and deals with the downfalls of society. But at the same time, there’s a science fiction that talks about the beauty of humanity.”

The artists were excited to be part of this event and share their work, especially after many of them have had limited opportunities for shows due to the pandemic. 

“I’m just really thankful to be here,” Dizzy said. “It’s kind of my first real showcase so I’m really excited to kind of get out there and have a platform to present my work and share it with people and engage in conversation.” 

The event provided many an opportunity to appreciate the value of art for all it offers. 

“The whole point of art is just to make art and so you don’t need to be good to other people. That’s not the purpose of art,” Charpenter said. “I see a lot of people especially, as they get older, thinking that they’re not able to create things because it’s not as good as somebody else’s. And it’s all relative, the whole point of art is to express yourself and to figure out what inside yourself needs healing, so just create anyways.”

The event was well attended with members of the Hamline community as well as friends of the artists visiting. BSC’s President Jazmin Clausen-Thomas was excited with the turnout and happy to provide a space for celebrating Black expression.

“We’ve had, at this event especially, a really, really good turnout from people who have multiple different backgrounds and that was our goal,” Clausen-Thomas said. “It’s important to showcase Black people at their best because I feel like the media just depicts Black people in a negative light in so many different ways. So I think it’s important for us to celebrate Black joy and Black art as much as possible.