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The Case for Black With a Capital B

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That's A Fact: Young, Gifted, and Black

by Talia Whyte

Bunker Hill Community College held the opening reception Feb. 9 for its latest exhibit “That’s a Fact: Young, Gifted and Black.” Many of the area’s best and brightest artists, filmmakers, musicians, writers and photographers were invited to display and celebrate their art. It was exciting to attend because it almost looked like a modern day Harlem Renaissance gathering.

During the 1920s and 1930s many African-Americans moved to the North as part of the Great Migration. Many of those migrants had creative aspirations and made their way to Harlem. These artists used their work to express the new black identity; many of them influenced by self-determination, the Jazz Age and the racial bigotry of the time. Like their Harlem forefathers, the young artists in this exhibit are expressing their own black identity, only this time their influences are hip-hop culture and their pride in having a black man in the White House.

For Roxbury artist Jennifer Hughes, she was influenced by her hair – literally. She has a lithograph in the exhibit made out of her own hair. Hughes – who currently has dreadlocks - said she did the piece at a time when she was having emotional issues with her own hair and was thinking about cutting it all off.

“Black women have so much history with their hair,” Hughes said. “As an artist, I wanted to create a piece to begin that discussion with others, while I was going through that journey myself.”

Although most of the exhibit artists are based in Massachusetts, many of them represent the ethnic and regional diversity within the black experience, like Trinidadian artist Alison Wells’ paintings of strong black women or "totems" and North Carolina native Karminadeebora McMillan using dolls and bright colors to show different expressions.

“There is a strong connection between art and racial justice,” said Boston artist Tatia Cynae. “It creates a greater understanding of what justice is for everyone.”