“Think of ten white artists, writers, or poets. I’m sure you can think of them fairly quickly. But can you name ten black artists, writers or poets off the top of your head?”
This was the challenge that Katelyn Brockmeyer, a junior art history major at UNI, posed to the attendees of her presentation over black artists in history. Brockmeyer is an intern with Imagining America at UNI and as part of her internship, she is facilitating presentations on various topics in art.
“I am in charge of campus and community outreach and this is sort of a pilot of what that looks like. It’s getting students involved, getting the community involved and just kind of centering it around the values of Imagining America, which is community engagement through arts, humanities and design. I kind of took that and ran with it. As an art history major, I decided that a good idea would be to educate people during Black History Month about black artists in history,” Brockmeyer said.
Brockmeyer gave an informational presentation over several important black artists, writers and poets, including Kihinde Wiley, Betye Saar, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Maya Angelou, Faith Ringgold and more. Chawne Paige, a UNI graduate and curator for the Waterloo Center for the Arts, also spoke at the event. Paige discussed the center’s collection of Haitian art, which is the largest collection of its kind in the country.
“It’s a very significant collection,” Page said. “The works that we have in our collection – there are a lot of depictions of the history of Haiti and a lot of the struggles could actually parallel a lot of the struggles here in the U.S., even though it’s a different country. Even to this day, as impoverished as it is, they’re still very much a proud black community, very proud of their African roots and very proud of what they have achieved.”
After the presentation, Brockmeyer allowed time for attendees who felt inspired by the artists they had seen to create their own art using various supplies she brought. Attendees had the option to draw, paint and cut from magazines or cloth in order to create an original piece of art.
Brockmeyer said that these creations would be displayed at Imagining America’s national conference in New Mexico to showcase what students had learned from her presentation.