Ohio State University: Wexner Center’s ‘All Day Blackness’ spotlights artists, businesses

The Ohio State University hosts a celebration of the Columbus Black community featuring local artists, organizations and businesses this weekend.

After debuting as an internet radio program last year, the Wexner Center for the Arts’ All Day Blackness event will be presented in a hybrid format on June 18 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the center, 1871 N. High St.

All Day Blackness activities will include a panel discussion with Black artists and business professionals, a meditation hour, an interactive art session, a community open mic with the Black Queer & Intersectional Collective and a DJ happy hour and networking session.

While All Day Blackness happens the same weekend as the Juneteenth holiday, which celebrates the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States, the event’s purpose is to highlight the contributions that African Americans make year-round, said Dionne Custer Edwards, the Wexner Center’s director of Learning and Public Practice.

“The intentions of All Day Blackness are inclusive, expansive and evolving, celebrating intersections of Black identity, Black artists and creatives, Black economic endeavors and business, and Black culture,” she said. “This year’s program is adjacent to Juneteenth, but it is important to note that this programming could take place at any time of the year. For instance, last year, All Day Blackness was in February, during Black History Month.”

The 2021 All Day Blackness event was broadcast on Columbus-based online radio station Verge.fm. This year’s programming will include livestreams of in-person activities held throughout the day, said Reg Zehner of Verge.fm., who organized last year’s event, is serving as this year’s curator and is the Wexner Center’s inaugural Path Fellow. The Path Fellowship is a one-year professional and training program that promotes diversity and inclusion in the arts.

“Being in person allows for a lot of new people to meet,” Zehner said. “This is a welcoming event for people to meet each other.”

All Day Blackness coincides with the Wexner Center’s new exhibition, “Portal For(e) the Ephemeral Passage,” on view through Aug. 14. Curated by jaamil olawale kosoko, the interdisciplinary exhibition features new works by kosoko, nora chipaumire, Jennifer Harge and Devin Drake, Dana Michel, Jasmine Murrell and Keioui Keijaun Thomas.

“Portal For(e) the Ephemeral Passage” includes installations and events centered on Black feminist and LGBTQ-plus theory, wellness practices, a film series, performances and an Instagram Live series.

“It’s so timely that jaamil is curating this body of work this summer,” Custer Edwards said. “It really does connect with All Day Blackness and asks the question, ‘What is community?’ We’re all a part of multiple communities.”

During All Day Blackness, the panel discussion will feature artists and business professionals sharing perspectives on their work in the community. Panelists include musician Dom Deshawn, Benjamin Willis of Parable Coffee, Tasha Lomo of Zora’s House, a nonprofit organization that promotes economic and personal development opportunities for women and non-binary people of color, and moderator Melissa Crum of the Mosaic Education Network.

“A lot of the conversation is going to center on, how do you navigate your identity as a Black business owner in Columbus and how do you sustain a career in the arts,” Zehner said. The panel will also address “how do you tell your story, and that story could inspire someone else.”

All Day Blackness in-person events will be streamed on the Wexner Center’s Instagram and Facebook pages. The livestream will be auto-captioned live on Facebook.

The hybrid event allows flexibility for individuals who participate in the entire day of programming as well as those who attend individual sessions, Custer Edwards said.

“We’re not trying to be one more event, we’re just adding to the collective energy,” she said. “You can go to all of these things or a few of things, and it’s all adding to the collective energy.”