Marissa McHugh/Nubian Message
Artwork created by third-year Robyn Bess is displayed at the AfroFunk: Culture in Motion pop-up exhibit at Talley Student Union on Wednesday, Feb. 13. The theme for Robyn’s pieces was based off of a quote about the media and culture from the 90’s TV show “Living Single.”

Yesenia Jones | Staff Writer

On Wednesday, Feb.13, students gathered on the third floor of Talley Student Union to partake in a pop-up museum entitled AfroFunk: Culture in Motion. The event, organized by the Multicultural Student Affairs, featured art, music and food.

Many of the artists present at the event were students who aimed to create positive portrayals of black culture through various mediums.

Robyn Bess, a third-year studying communication with a concentration in media, decided to use photography as her medium. Bess showcased a photo series in which she recreated cast members and scenes from the 90’s television show Living Single.

For Bess, the characters in the show were inspiring depictions of black women whose legacies lived well beyond the show’s ending in 1998.

“I think it was really before it’s time,” Bess said. “Because now that I sit back and look at it, they talked about depression, they talked about going to see a therapist, STDs and the stock market. It’s educational but it’s also feel good.”

Her goal when creating the series was to utilize the legacies of Living Single’s characters to show that black women have consistently shaped culture, whether they are given credit or not.

“I wanted to show how dope we are…but also showcase my photowork,” Bess said.

The student photographer is the owner of Robyn Bess Photography. She stated that being able to showcase her work in Talley Student Union was a boost of confidence as she continues to grow as a photographer.

Bess wasn’t alone in showcasing her talents at the pop-up museum. Caylen Bost, also known as CayTheArtist on social media, is a fourth-year studying biological sciences with a concentration in human biology. Bost created her own portals of the black culture using painting as her medium.

“All of my art is kind of based around depicting black beauty,” Bost said. “And basically the evolution of the black being. So I always like to use a lot of color and depth with my pieces.”

At the pop-up museum, Bost displayed works of art that ranged from bright abstract paintings to concept pieces that displayed deeper meanings. She stated that one of her goals when creating paintings is to display the beauty that comes after times of struggle such as segregation or being subjected to oppression.

The student artist expressed her pride in being able to depict black culture in a space like Talley Student Union.

“I always hope that we can depict more black culture, more black art in spaces like Talley where we can share it with the general body of the school,” Bost said. “I think that we don’t normally get a chance to display our culture, especially art forms. And that really means a lot for Black History Month.”

Many students who participated in sharing their art at the pop-up museum shared this sentiment.

“I think the open space allows our voices to be heard all throughout the whole building,” said Maayan Eaves, a second-year studying communication.

Eaves’ voice was heard at the event as she sang an ode to black women and performed an original poem, “Letter from a Black Girl.”

“I wrote [Letter from a Black Girl] for a Black History Month showcase at my high school,” Eaves said, “and I haven’t performed it since. When I found out about AfroFunk, I was like I want to perform this here. So it’s time to take it out dust it off and perform it again.”

Eaves stated that she believes it is important to have displays of black culture all around campus and not just in the African American Cultural Center. Bost had some ideas for how black culture can continue to be celebrated all over campus after Black History Month.

“We can do like an artist spotlight once a month,” Bost said, “just to raise awareness around artists on campus. Because it’s kind of hard to get an avenue to present your work all the time.”

The artists, singers and musicians who presented their work on Feb. 13 seemed to have felt uplifted and confident in their displays as the event came to a close.


Click here to see the full gallery of photos from AfroFunk.