Often Black History Month is seen to be a solemn time where we remember the terrible years of slavery. 24 Hours of Blackness — an event that began with a powerful opening on February 9th and can still be enjoyed in the Ada Slaight gallery — focuses on the everyday lives of modern day black people symbolically through an interactive barber shop. The atmosphere and storytelling is a beautiful example of community and togetherness, not to mention the amazing artists putting it all together.

The Defiance of Display
An editorial by Sydney Gittens
I first heard about the incident behind one of the admissions for this event, “The Adoration” by Kelvin Mendie, in my Essay and Argument lecture taught by Camille Isaacs. An intriguing tale of frustration was weaved (maybe “narrated to the class” instead?) in front of the class about how a work of art created for a black history exhibition was intentionally damaged, and I left that lecture feeling as I’m sure Professor Isaacs felt when she first heard the news. Infuriated. And so, after the lecture I went out to the exhibition to see the piece in all of its glory, expecting to leave even more angry than when I came. Upon staring at the piece for a few minutes, I soaked in not just the work that was done, but also the damage that was done to it. I felt an immense swell of pride. The image of a beautiful, strong, confident, and regal black man staring down through the gash that was torn through the canvas was strong. Defiant. Its simple act of display was saying ‘we are strong, we are proud, we are here. And there is nothing anyone can do about it.’

 

Check out this slideshow for more photos of the event:

 

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Photography by Jessie Jihyun Lee and Galen Ward