Antonina Dolecka reviews the University of Edinburgh exhibition closing Black History month celebrating inspiring black women
On Friday, 29th of October, closing off Black History Month, Feminist Society in collaboration with History Society, BAME Liberation Campaign EUSA and Disabled Students’ Officer and Campaign Committee organised an exhibition titled Black History: A Journey Through Time. The exhibition brought together a series of paintings created by a collaboration of artists, all of them being students at the University of Edinburgh, commemorating and celebrating black women working in a field of activism, academia or art.
Janet Mock, Angela Davis, Tarana Burke and six other black women’s portraits displayed in the Potterow’s dome mesmerised the audience with their technique and precision. Every image was created by a different artist, and each one of them included their unique style of work, giving the exhibition a diversified atmosphere. No two pieces were similar in the slightest: distinct plays with colour saturation and depth, different artistic techniques and one piece done fully digitally. The artworks leaned an ever changing pathway in front of the audience, introducing a brand new image at every stop, ready for the viewers to appreciate. The choral effect of the exhibition gave you a chance to be exposed repeatedly to a new form of artistic creation and even though the event featured only nine paintings, each one of them welcomed you with its uniqueness. With each new painting you were invited to take further this journey through not only time, but also art.
Even just glancing around the room made you curious, fascinated and longing to take your time while exploring each image separately. Every portrait showed not only the immense talent of the artists but also their admiration for the activist they were painting. They brought their individual view of all these women and it was clear that it was both dedication to art and to feminism that led them to creating these works.
The faces they portaited told you a story, a story of these women’s determination, dedication, passion and courage to fight for what is rightly theirs and for the chance to live in a world where your race or gender is not a source of discrimination. A few portraits leaned explicitly into the feminst nature of the exhibition, featuring activists’ quotes and mottos as a background to their image. They created a composition that made those paintings even more outstanding and conveyed a message using mixed media , allowing activism and art to meet halfway.
The exhibition was a powerful celebration of black feminists, the immense load of work they’re doing everyday and all the rights they’re fighting for. Artists managed to capture their charisma, spirit and passion for their work. It was one of those times when the artistic expression left you speechless, put you in a reflective mood, allowing you to celebrate the essence of the sitter that shone through the canvas and leaving you with a message, not only visual joy.
Photo courtesy of Amy Life