April Bey and Lavett Ballard: Representing black women, selfhood in art


Courtesy of the Center for Academic Equity

Sanjali De Silva, Senior Staff Reporter

This Wednesday, the Center for Academic Equity will host major artists Lavett Ballard and April Bey in a conversation highlighting themes of self-representation, deciding the value in one own’s art, and the indivisibility between politics, equity and art.

“We are excited to join the national conversation concerning how the media presents and often constricts representation of African American women. By bringing two internationally acclaimed African-American visual artists to campus, we are asking the important question: what changes when African American women represent themselves?” Rebecca Mark, director of the Center for Academic Equity, said.

Ballard has a dual Bachelor of Arts in studio art and art history from Rutgers University and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. In her art, she works to evoke a sense of belonging in her viewers. Her work is mostly based on the female African American experience and body. In an article in “Black Art in America,” Ballard says she hopes that people of other ethnic backgrounds will be able to understand colorism that exists within their own communities.

Much of her work is done on wooden fences, representing how the structures can hold people in but also keep others out. On them she paints, enlarges, burns and tears images into dynamic and emotional pieces.

Also highlighting black women, Bey’s work is used as a social critique of contemporary American pop culture feminism, generational theory, social media and AfroFuturism. She grew up on the Caribbean is now located in Los Angeles.

In an interview with Amanda Quinn Olivar, Bey said, “My interest in making art is excretory in nature — trauma, frustrations, coping, thriving all coexist as byproducts produced from my art practice and making. There’s never an aha moment for me because I struggle and fight with my work constantly.”

All students are invited to engage in dialogue with these influential artists as they discuss themes of selfhood in art. The event is free and will be held from 7-8 p.m. in Stone Auditorium on Wednesday, March 27.

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