Texas A&M: Third Annual Black Aggie Art Showcase Goes Virtual, Highlights Student Talent

The Black Graduate Student Association and the College of Architecture Diversity Council came together virtually this month for the third annual Black Aggie Art Showcase. Usually a month-long exhibit at the college, this year’s event moved online where the artists presented their work to a virtual audience.

The event featured original drawings, paintings and poetry by Texas A&M undergraduate and graduate students.

One presentation of note by atmospheric sciences graduate student Nancy Okeudo was inspired by a current exhibit at Texas A&M’s Stark Galleries, “A Cast of Blues,” which features resin-cast masks of blues legends created by artist Sharon McConnell-Dickerson, who is visually impaired.

Okeudo said she was inspired to create paintings of the masks and “invite” the musicians over for dinner and a game of dominoes. During the virtual event, she showed the audience her paintings of guitarist Jessie Mae Hemphill, and blues fife and drum player Othar Turner, along with a self portrait, and discussed what such an evening would’ve been like.

Also featured during the event was Kevin Johnson, aka Bahati, a Ph.D. student in cultural anthropology, who read his poem “Universe the Free” which explored a theme combining relativistic physics with justice.

Yaír André Cuenú-Mosquera, a Ph.D. student in Hispanic studies who is from Colombia, read four original poems in Spanish in his presentation called “Cuatro sorbos de café negro colombiano” (Four sips of Colombian black coffee).

The poems read by Cuenú-Mosquera included “Somos la herida que no cicatriza,” (We are the wound that does not cicatrize) which he said explores “the Black roots, an idea of the African Diaspora as a same tree with historical branches.” The second poem was “Osan llamarle criada” (They dare to call her a maid) which he said is about the discrimination that some women suffer working in homes, for instance, taking care of children. The third was “Somos la tierra” (We are the land) which he said is about “how important it is for Black communities to fight for the right to have our own lands, to protect our territories and to preserve the right to be there.” Finally, he said, the fourth, “La voz de una” (The voice of a) is a feminist poem which discusses how in Spanish there are usually gender-based differences between indefinite pronouns, but commonly the use of the masculine is “neutral” all the time.

Professor of Architecture Cecilia Giusti, the college’s associate dean for outreach and diversity, joined the event which she described as “a very moving and enlightening experience,” adding that Black artists are an important part of campus.

“The College of Architecture is proud to collaborate with all of you,” Giusti told the participants. “We want to serve as a platform for this and other similar organizations which promote and celebrate a more inclusive campus.”