Celebrating Black Beauty through Art

By La’Shance Perry

Local experts and artists addressed the topic of Black self-love as part of “Queen: A Symposium on Black Beauty,” on Feb. 22, 2018, that featured the artistic works from the exhibition “Queen: From the Collection of CCH Pounder.” The artist Carol Christine Hilaria Pounder (CCH Pounder) is also an Emmy-Winning Actress, known for her roles in Avatar, Sons of Anarchy, Law & Order, ER, and the X-Files. The symposium held on Xavier University’s Campus featured a round-table discussion on Black Beauty, showcased vendors that promoted self-care, retail, ethnic care products and artwork, and included a symbolic performance by Artist, Satch Hoyt. The event’s organizers: Prospect 4 New Orleans, Xavier’s Art Department, and Xavier’s Division of Fine Arts and Humanities said they wanted a Black History Month event that represented Black Beauty and art that engaged the community.

“Representation is key. That’s why an exhibition like that can be so empowering and so radical even though it is just images,” said Sarah Clunis, an Assistant Professor of Art History at Xavier. “This is an educational thing, but it has all of the different elements to engage people,” Clunis said.

Pounder’s Exhibition features African American artists including her own and art from her collection from the African Diaspora. “Queen: from the Collection of CCH Pounder” is on public display in Xavier’s Administration Building until March 22, 2018.

Clunis, who is the Director of Xavier University’s Art Gallery, said she orchestrated the featured exhibit and the symposium because students would tell her that they don’t feel pretty as Black women. This motivated her to showcase Black Beauty through this exhibit and performance.

“Part of what made me want to do this is because students have, over time, told me that they don’t feel beautiful,” Clunis said.

One of the highlights of the night was London-born Artist, Hoyt’s performance called “Hair Combing Cycle.” The performance featured Black women, dressed in white, of all different backgrounds combing their hair rhythmically to create a song. The performers used hairs picks that were red, yellow, and green that represent liberation colors. Hoyt, who is of British and Jamaican background, said that this performance is a tribute to the first slave rebellion in Georgetown and that he wanted people to take away from his performance “pain and unity.” Hoyt has used combs throughout his career. This is the first experience dedicated to the significance of combs with Black hair and history.

“Many of our women and activists have portals and vessels that carry these codes, and codes were passed down by the act of combing. This particular performance was about the ‘detanglement’ of colonial parities,” said Hoyt, who resides and works in Berlin, Germany.

One of the performers and first-year student Naiya Ray said she felt that it was a liberating experience. “I just want other students to appreciate all cultures, not just the Black community but African communities as well,” Ray said.

Vendors sold products such as natural hair and skin care products, clothing, jewelry and art that all represented the Black community and African culture.

“Each [vendor] is different and celebrates different African cultures and that’s what the performance did,” Ray said.

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