CHS uses gallery exhibition to broaden impact of Black History Month – Essex News Daily
MAPLEWOOD, NJ – Black History Month did not end Feb. 28 at Columbia High School, as the associated art exhibit at the school’s Domareki Gallery was extended through Feb. 11. March. , is a celebration of Black history and culture and was a new addition to the high school’s regular Black History Month programming. It was designed by Marcia Hicks, CHS Counselor and Director of the Minority Achievement Community, with assistance from staff in the Art Department.
“It was exciting to do something new and outside of the assemblies and discussions that we usually do for Black History Month,” Hicks said in a phone interview with the News-Record on the 28th. February. “Having everyone for an assembly became difficult because of COVID, and I realized we had to change some things. I was definitely in a rut of finding new things to do.
Staff have issued a call for artwork to all CHS students, rather than limiting gallery space to those already taking art classes. Hicks said she was surprised at how many students she already knew personally submitted work, despite not even knowing they were artists.
“It was great to see how many kids I know have these facets that we hadn’t seen,” Hicks said. “I didn’t realize how many talented students we had at this school. And I think we hit a different group of students this year, because there were also kids that I didn’t know who were saying, “This is a cool place” and participating.
Art students of art professor Curtis Grayson III have pieces in the exhibit, just like him. One of the teacher’s pieces is a large painting by Virgil Abloh, the fashion designer who served as artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection until his death from cancer in 2021. Abloh was also an artist. The piece, which Grayson worked on both in class with her students and at home, broke one of her longstanding personal rules of not depicting celebrities or people who are no longer alive.
“I usually never paint celebrities or deceased people,” Grayson said in a telephone interview with the News-Record on Feb. 25. “I don’t want to capitalize on someone dying. If you can give people their flowers while they’re here instead of when they can’t smell them anymore, you should. But he really was an artist apart. whole thing and shattered that glass ceiling. I felt compelled to do something for him.
Hicks said many of the students who submitted artwork for the exhibit had enough to fill the entire gallery on their own, so she, the staff and two student interns had to cut it down. She wanted to make sure everyone had a place on the wall somewhere; due to the volume of work submitted, they were unable to identify an exhibition-wide theme. Instead, it was divided into sections, including areas for photography, portraiture, and music, among other categories.
“Now more art is shown and gets more (acclaimed),” Grayson said of black artists in the gallery scene. “There have been so many years without being shown and without being part of the decision on what is shown in the galleries. Here, a lot of students have been able to decide.
The show has been extended and will now run until March 11. During the last two days, artists will be able to display price tags on their pieces if they wish to sell them. Overall, the show was a smash hit.
“I give them all a lot of congratulations,” Grayson said. “It was one of the most impactful shows I’ve been here.”
Hicks, who doesn’t spend her day-to-day with gallery artists like Grayson does, said building the exhibit was a learning experience for her that she wants to carry on into the future.
“It was different and meaningful in ways I didn’t expect,” she said. “We have so many diverse students who are so talented. They definitely made this Black History Month special for me.
Photos courtesy of Curtis Grayson III