Last weekend, 1Hood Media, Mikael Owunna Studios, The Redd Studio and Pittsburgh Pirates teamed up to celebrate local black artists with Art as Liberation, an event held outside PNC Park.
Art as Liberation, which took place on June 18, featured a live DJ, free food, interactive workshops and musical performances, in addition to the 25 black visual artists on display. The event also served to celebrate Juneteenth, which commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in 1865. The day became a federal holiday in June 2021.
Art as Liberation showcased photographers, painters, graphic designers and others. Owunna, a local photographer and owner of Mikael Owunna Studios, wanted black artists to come together and showcase art in new and creative ways.
Owunna paints her models with fluorescent paints and uses a flash that transmits only ultraviolet light. He says that after the killing of Michael Brown and George Floyd, he “wanted to find a way to transfigure black bodies from being places of death into cosmic vessels of eternal light.”
“Art as liberation can from the mind of Mikael Owunna,” says Jasiri X, co-founder of 1Hood Media. “He really wanted to do something for Juneteenth, and we put this on
last year at the City of Asylum. Unfortunately, they don’t have an outsider
more space, so we decided to call PNC Park, and here we are ”.
Marques Redd, managing member of The Redd Studio, adds: “It is important that people come together to really think about cultural heritage, freedom and
liberation. We can do all of this while building infrastructure for black artists. ”
Each artist had something that pushed him to get to where he is. For many it was the effects of the pandemic.
“I was fired in 2020,” says Naomi Allen, a mixed media artist who specializes in 3D paintings, resin and papier mache. “I simply had no other way to make money. I had nothing else to do, so I started my artistic activity. In my first two days, I made over $ 1,000. I’ve been consistent ever since. ”
Alycia Washington claims she was fired from her job in 2016.
“It put a lot of stress on me as I tried to figure out what would happen next,” Washington says. “Since I had so much time on my hands, I started working and painting again. I realized that if I left so much happiness and joy when I made them.
Dominick Mcduffie learned about photography by visiting Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library.
“When I went to the library, I started discovering black photographers like Tennie
Harris and Gordon Parks, “says Mcduffie.” This has allowed me to see how I can do it
the photography mat allowed me to see how I can take my photograph.
Most of Marlon Fullenwider’s portraits are made entirely of glass and are inspired by the art of mosaic, a technique that uses small pieces of material such as stone, minerals, glass, tiles or shells.
“I was introduced to the mosaic concept in high school,” says Fullenwider. “I like the reflective element that the glass had.”
Evangeline Mensah-Agyekum is an emerging photographer she is proud of
having blacks as its main subjects. “Fashion is what inspired me to become a photographer,” says Mensah-Agyekum. “However, being able to know everyone’s stories and what they’ve been through inspires me the most. Having work with us is something special for us ”.
Both Patrick Everett and Sagid Saleh are influenced by anime.
“I noticed on TikTok that animated paintings were becoming popular. For all
history, there have been black samurai, black ninjas and martial artists, “he says
Everett. “Our culture has influenced and helped everywhere, and I think it’s huge.”
Everett’s portraits are made on glass because he believes they provide the
better appearance. “I love that everything is clean and that’s why I put everything on the glass,” says Everett.
Most of Saleh’s art is inspired by anime.
“I’ve watched anime all my life. I think a lot of blacks feel
alienated from society and have been neglected for so long, ”Saleh says. “We watch
for inspiration in the media. Much of Japanese art is about coming of age and who
the character is inside. Many people of color resonate with this.
Another local artist, Keisha Patterson, believes that “a lot of black artists are working in isolation,” adding, “Meeting has been really energizing. This can’t be the only time black artists come together.”
Joziah Council was one of the musical artists of the event.
“I started in church. Both of my grandparents were shepherds. Gospel music is
truly a pillar of the church, ”says the council. “I started giving my interpretation
make it mine”.
Steve Thomas and his wife Kamerrin own Caribbean VYBZ and provide it for free
“Making food is an art and a passion. If you feel great cooking
then you should try, “says Steve.” More African Americans should try to get in
business for yourself instead of making a 9 to 5. Most of us are uneducated
being entrepreneurs, so we have to educate ourselves “.
The event was also attended by Stephen Perkins, executive vice president of marketing for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who says, “Sport can bring people together. We saw this as an opportunity to bring all of our communities together to celebrate black artists. We wanted to give them the platform and exposure they deserve “.
Carey Cox is the senior director of integrated marketing for the Pittsburgh Pirates and believes the sports organization allows the community to take the lead.
“We have listening sessions with local groups. It is their city that should have a say
about what needs to be done within the city, ”Cox says.