Photo by Ony Otiocha
Unique Patton, a fourth-year design studies student, watches a performance at the Black Artist Coalition’s April Showcase held at Harris Field on Thursday, April 6, 2023. This event was held during Pan-Afrikan Week, which celebrates unifies students of the African diaspora.

On Thursday, April 6, the Black Student Board (BSB) in partnership with the Black Artist Coalition (BAC) held an art showcase on Harris Field. This showcase was a part of NC State’s Pan-Afrikan week and featured seasoned visual artists and performers ranging from poets to singers. Primarily running the event were BAC’s President and Vice President, Kierstan Hicks and Laila Monadi. 

The purpose of this event was to provide a platform for People of Color (POC) artists to showcase their artistry and talent to NC State students. The visual artists, including Julian Doaks, Kayla Clark, Lee-Chavis-Tartaglia, Maliah Fair, Nate Gomez, Unique Patton, Tobin Travis and Monadi, were selling some of their artwork at their own stations. 

Unique Patton, a fourth-year majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Business Administration and Design Studies who participated as a visual artist, gave some personal insight on what this event means to her and why she chose to partake in it. 

Nubian Message: Alright…and what’s the significance of this event to you?

Unique Patton: The significance of this event for me is, um, for one I’ve been a part of BAC, like the club, for about two and a half years, so for me being able to have a space that artists of color can come and just be able to create and not feel like we have to like, create for other beings and just create for ourselves authentically… that’s what I really appreciate about it. Also, meeting dope artists and connecting with them, ‘cause like I’m a senior I’m bout to leave, but like I still wanna stay connected with a lot of the students here. 


NM: That’s really great…and what do you hope to see from this event as an artist? 


Paton: I think that for me, I would want to see just like…more engagement with the community here, so like not just black people and other people of color, but like everyone on this campus so they can see our work, engage with it and ask questions, but mostly I feel like it’s always a story behind every artist so us getting our stories out is really important. That would be my wish. 


NM: Alright, and then one more question: How do you think this event contributes to Black culture on campus? 


Paton: I think it contributes from how we only started up during COVID and whatnot, and it’s provided a space. People of color need a safe space to create so, I feel like having that space is really helpful and I’ve met a lot of people here, like in the club, who’ve come out to sell art. They’re engineers and technical majors and things like that, but they still have a soft spot for the arts, so I feel like we needed [this] in hard times, especially with what’s been going on with mental health and all of that other stuff, so I’m glad that this can be that for people. 

Performers were a major part of this event as well. The performers included Spooky, who showcased an original spoken-word poem, Christopher Dunstan, who mixed and mastered some music and showcased his dancing, Mona Abraham who mixed music and also sang a song cover, Monadi who sang a cover and Hicks who read an original poem. 

After Monadi’s performance, they provided some insight into why BAC hosts these showcases and what they enjoy about hosting them. 


NM: And what motivates you and BAC to host these events? 


Laila Monadi: Mainly just to bring together more Black artists and the black community in general ‘cause I know there’s just so many of us and so many opportunities for us to come together especially for Black artists in general, I feel like that’s an intersection that’s not often highlighted at…you know PWIs often are just like, ‘cause, I know just out of the entirety of art clubs here there are probably two or three and they’re probably a white majority hosted so, just having our own safe space here for POC artists I feel like is really important to build community and comfort and just having that safe space for everyone to come to and just express themselves! 


NM: Nice, and what’s your favorite part of hosting these events? 


Monadi: My favorite part? Probably just the community aspect. Like again, like events like this, getting everyone together so everyone can come out and showcase their talents and just sort of express the authentic part of themselves that they wouldn’t get to [show] anywhere else. That’s the biggest joy I’d have to say. 


NM: Okay, and if there’s one thing you want people to take away from this event, what would it be? LM: Just that we are…I guess again like I said we are welcoming, we’re a safe space, all POC artists [are] welcome, or if you’re just like a person of color in general looking to have friends, learn something new, express yourself, we are open and welcome to all of you so…yeah! Just… that’s the main thing is that the Black Artist Coalition is a space for safety, freedom, creativity, and a POC community. 


At the end of the event, Hicks showed her appreciation and admiration when she thanked all of the attendees and made sure to highlight the visual artists and performers once again, “Please give it up once more for our amazing visual artists who spent so much time making this art for us to see. Also please give it up for our amazing performers who came up here and showcased their talents tonight.” 

The Black Artist Coalition and their annual April showcases serve as a platform for Black artists and performers alike to showcase their work and talent. The collaboration with BSB during Pan-Afrikan week amplifies their presence even further. The Black Artist Coalition’s Instagram page, @blackartistcoalition, notifies followers of the showcase every year and also highlights different black artists in their posts.