Celebrating Black History Month: Honoring African American Artists in the ZMA Permanent Collection

In recognition of Black History Month, the Zuckerman Museum of Art will present a series of virtual exhibitions comprised of artwork by African American artists from our permanent collection. Celebrating Black History Month: Honoring African American Artists in the ZMA Permanent Collection features work encompassing a variety of styles and mediums, expressing each artist’s plurality of vision and experience. This curatorial project offers our talented museum student assistants the opportunity to interact with academic peers and museum staff, engage in scholarly research, conceive, curate, and actualize independent exhibitions utilizing the prominent collection of the ZMA. Individual responses to the collection were realized as thoughtful and timely exhibitions, highlighting each student’s unique perspective and ability to form a personal narrative. All students were afforded guidance and support throughout the entire process from all ZMA staff, including curatorial mentorship from our director of curatorial affairs, Cynthia Nourse Thompson.


  • Fluxing
  • Phantom Takes Flint,
  • Blood, Sweat, & Fears
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Bust
  • The Aftermath of Katrina: a Church and a Home
  • It has become increasingly prevalent to encounter the term “Black bodies” in academia and media. Originally, I found the term dehumanizing, and, in some usages, it has that connotation, but I have also found that it centers a discussion around the physical inequalities experienced by people of color. Thus, the Black figure, the pictorial representation of the body in art can emphasize the overarching narratives that differentiate but also provide an element of personalization, allowing the viewer to empathize. This selection of works seeks to showcase the various ways in which the Black body stands as the central figure in an overarching narrative.

    The figure is a powerful tool in visual storytelling. Being human, we immediately relate to it and recognize it within a work of art, but the figure is nothing without its context and is in essence defined by it. Within the selection of artworks, Black figures stand as focal points grounded by their context and environment. Throughout, the Black figure takes many forms – some singular, some representational of a broader phenomenon. Here the Black figure is at the center of a historical narrative, as an activist and an anti-hero, as hero and a martyr. In the piece The Aftermath of Katrina: a Church and a home (2006 – 2007) by Willie Birch, there is a distinct lack of an embodied figure, but the reference to this absence is felt powerfully. The print depicts two dilapidated buildings, the titular home and church, presumed to be in the New Orleans area following the devastating effects of hurricane Katrina. The destruction documented in this piece calls attention to the disparity which black communities of New Orleans continue to face today.

    It is my hope that through this careful selection of works, the presentation of these stories are a catalyst and a plea for change inviting viewers to take part in continuing the march towards equality.

    C.J. Baker

  • C.J. Baker was born and raised in Georgia. He is an art history major at KSU and plans to graduate in the Spring of 2022. Baker’s research focus in art history centers around European arms and armor. He has worked at the museum since September of 2020 and is a trained docent.

    As an educational assistant, C.J. Baker has gained experience creating content focused on art education and outreach. Additionally, he has acquired skills in gallery management, exhibition coordination, and curation. Baker’s favorite part about working at the ZMA is getting to see behind the scenes and interacting with our museum collection in a more intimate setting.


  • Peach Volume
  • Start/End: Inclusion/Exclusion
  • On Display
  • Container
  • I am not,
  • The Aftermath of Katrina
  • Audible Street Light
  • Identity Duality Analogy: Simplicity is to Chaos…

    In 2020, the realities of Black Americans came to light in ways that motivated support which was long overdue. Centuries of continuous oppression in the United States have left us in the dark, forcing us to fight for the same light that inherently shines on our white neighbors. While we are still fighting for that light, the tragic events of the year have motivated people to use their privilege to direct attention toward Black Excellence. The Zuckerman Museum of Art offered one of these opportunities for visibility, inviting student assistants to curate a virtual exhibition for Black History Month including works by Black artists in our permanent collection.

    The works in my exhibition suggest themes of simplicity and chaos, a duality that often bemuses me in trying to understand my own experiences as a mixed-Black queer woman living in the United States. My identity poses challenges for me that are hard to navigate as I do not fit into a single community, and I do not have a clear understanding of whether I should view myself as privileged or oppressed. This selection of prints transition from simple to chaotic in terms of style, but the duality is also reflected between chosen pairs of similar styles. Through these works, I seek the presence of symbols that help me navigate my identity. These symbols include hair, shelter, language, and simple shapes—especially circles as a metaphor for portals—which bring uncertainty, darkness, hope and wonder all in a single space that has the potential to lead to other worlds.

    The first pair of linoleum prints by Somé Louis speak to me in the flexibility of their perception through the presence of simple shapes. Recently, in my own work, I have utilized circles as a metaphor for portals which provide an avenue to escape a world that can feel quite hopeless at times. I view Peach Volume as that avenue for escape with its especially inviting round shapes and warm color, while Start/End: Inclusion/Exclusion feels more like the reality that keeps us from that escape, with its cool color, sharp edges, and composite layers.

    The following pair of lithographs by Althea Murphy-Price present different approaches to communicating through the material of hair—a dominating feature in the lives of Black women that we consistently manipulate in an attempt to find and define ourselves. These works speak to our relationship with hair, one showcasing its potential for freedom and the other reflecting its susceptibility to manipulation and restriction. The subsequent screenprints use language as the main elements of communication. A simple, monochromatic, repetitive message of intersectionality, inclusivity, and love as it should be accepted is juxtaposed by a more somber message in striking red ink that is chaotically layered.

    My exhibition concludes with two powerful prints that reflect similar visual styles, although they use different printmaking techniques and communicate contrasting perspectives. Willie Birch’s The Aftermath of Katrina: A Church and a Home, invites a glimpse into the aftermath of a historical tragedy in the United States, a tragedy particularly to the Black community that is still left in shambles over a decade after the event. This work is paired with Audible Street Light by Mildred Beltre and Sukenya Best, an etching of similar visual chaos that offers a lighter message. A figure stands in the open air pointing towards a bright circle that reads a message of faith. This final work portrays how Black Americans continue to fight ceaseless chaos and oppression with hope and positivity.

    As long as we set out to undo the wrongs of this nation’s past, we must prioritize those who were wronged the most. This means actively and frequently amplifying Black voices, and creating space for us to find and share our light with others who share our experiences.

    Tatiana Bell

  • Tatiana Bell is a senior at KSU in the Interactive Design Program, graduating in the Spring of 2021. Bell has worked at the Zuckerman Museum of Art for two years. During her time at the ZMA, she has had the opportunity to learn about diverse works of art and artists. She has learned about art handling, art installation, and storage. Bell has also been trained as a docent and has led tours to various audiences.

    Before joining the student assistant team at the ZMA, Bell completed an internship in our education department and worked closely with Elizabeth Thomas, the Education and Outreach Coordinator here at the ZMA. During the internship, Bell applied her design thinking skills and methods learned during her education at KSU to the museum space, developing materials to create a better environment for guests and employees.

    During her time as a student assistant, Bell has developed interpersonal, customer service, and public speaking skills that will serve her well in future career opportunities and artistic spaces. Bell's favorite thing about working at the ZMA is being exposed to so many different types of art forms. As an artist and designer, she is endlessly inspired to explore the possibilities of creativity.



  • Mosque in Tangiers
  • Spanning Two Lands
  • It's A Simple Fix
  • Stockholm Syndrome
  • With A Universe For Tomb,
  • Forecasting our Current Calamity

    The works of art I have selected visually and conceptually convey an aesthetic that is dystopian and provide further articulation of our current world as bleak and apocalyptic. Black and white color palettes and narratives that relate to the barren, the end of days, and the feeling of the unknown are all present. Additionally, references to biblical texts and color schemes, literal interpretations of dark-landscapes, as well as films of pop culture and fantasy are common themes.

    The works Mosque in Tangiers by Henry Ossawa Tanner and spanning two lands by Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo, focus on dismal landscapes. The absence of color is intentional and harshly emphasizes the desolate environment. Both artists are prominently known for making works in color, but in these works the simplistic use of black and white is compelling.

    The additional three works in my exhibition relate specifically to dystopian films. In the case of Jahmad Balugo’s It’s a Simple Fix, the serigraph clearly illustrates the degradation of the environment by pollution. To me, this work references movies like Ready Player One and the City of Ember, where technology has taken over and decayed the earth. Utilizing a style informed by comic books, Aaron S. Coleman’s works evoke an almost biblical sense of melancholy with birds representing a sign of god and nature, possibly turning on humans as in the film The Birds (which can be seen in his work titled Stockholm Syndrome). The other work by Coleman, With a Universe for a Tomb, also influenced by his background in hip-hop culture and street art, depicts sci-fi elements of an apocalypse. This work could also be interpreted as a social statement on how we are annihilating our planet. We cannot see the people who are the actual cause of the destruction, be it Aliens or just regular human beings. Through mythical imagery, these pieces illuminate how humans are contributing to the degradation of society as a man-made apocalypse.

    My hope is that this exhibition encourages viewers to re-evaluate their vision and perspective of our shared environment. Foreshadowing our future, the pieces may evoke grim and dystopian viewpoints, but hopefully, they can provide insight on what we need to fix in our society.

    Macy Briley

  • Macy Briley recently graduated from Kennesaw State University in the Fall of 2020. She majored in Asian Studies with a concentration in Business, with minors in Korean and International Affairs. Briley worked at the museum from February 2019 until December 2020 and trained as a docent in the Fall of 2019.

    During her time at the ZMA, Macy Briley developed many skills, including public speaking. Through her experience as a docent, she learned how to give educational presentations to diverse audiences. She hopes to use this skill in her future pursuits by either teaching English in Korea or when she goes to Law School. Briley's favorite part about working at the museum was interacting with staff and visitors.



  • Behind the Veil

    The year 2020 will be eternally memorialized in books regarding history. It was the year of change and sorrow, from the death of many beloved celebrities to COVID-19 deaths in the hundreds of thousands. On May 25th, the world watched as another person took their last breath. However, this was different. This death was not caused by a rampant virus or a helicopter crash due to bad weather. The ruthless death of George Floyd was caused by a police officer's knee on his neck. Many were stuck at home when the news reached their ears. Emotions of shock, denial, grief, and anger rippled across the country and re-ignited the Black Lives Matter movement to a level that was never seen before in history. It was as if a veil was lifted to reveal the fruits of the broken systems in our society. People around the world held protests and demanded that change take place for a broken community.

    My exhibition features works by Black and African American artists that will be discussed in the order of my proposed narrative. The first piece, Defeated by Mildred Beltre, recalls the police shootings involving unarmed, innocent men, women, and children that identify with the Black community. My very first thought by 18andcounting was selected to be a part of this exhibit because of the death of Breonna Taylor on the night of March 13th. The family of Breonna Taylor filed a lawsuit for twelve million dollars against the city and won. While this was a significant first step, I realized that one step in the right direction is not good enough. Much more needs to be done to have justice for Breonna and the rest of the Black community.

    As a Black individual living in this time of reckoning, I found a sense of hope for a brighter and safer world. However, I am still reminded of those who have been greatly affected mentally by the amount of hate and disregard shown for Black lives in this country. There are different ways that Black individuals might cope with racism and prejudice. The following works call attention to the various coping mechanisms that I have observed in Black communities over the years.

    The works "My very first thought” by 18andcounting and Monochrome Multiplicity by M'Bwende Anderson share similarities in both line and texture—essentially reflecting each other’s characters. I view these circles as a representation of a person. However, these circles are incomplete and melt into the others around them, suggesting the sense of a family or community leaning on each other sharing ideas, thoughts, and support.

    Sad Songs & Regrets by Jerushia Graham evokes music as being a coping tool for weathering tragic times. Music can also lift our spirits and bring joy to weary hearts. Music by African Americans has provided a voice for social change, justice, and liberty. As a musician, I instantly connected with this piece as it painted music as a vehicle of creative expression. The circular motif in this work reflects the visual shapes of musical notes. These circular themes serve to connect the individual works in my exhibit, similar to how music would transcend culture, language, and physical barriers to bring many individuals together from all walks of life.

    Paranormal Weather by A. Coleman, J. Ballweg, and T. Richards is a beautiful work depicting a natural landscape. Many individuals in my circle of friends find refuge from their worries by hiking in the mountains or resting by streams and rivers. Church Scene by Bernice Sims captures a glimpse of a typical Black church service illustrating the comfort and fellowship found with others worshipping their creator. Having a spiritual walk with God and having communion with him is how many individuals cast their cares and worries away. "C.R.E.A.M" provides commentary on the economic issues and struggles of the Black community. Whether poor or rich, Black individuals still face racist indifference outside their communities. While other races may gain more respect and power as their wealth increases, Black individuals remain at a comparative disadvantage.

    On Display by A. Murphy-Price and M. Beltre, fascinates me with the use of hair as the focal imagery of the work. Hair is a significant part of my identity, as it is for Black and Brown women across the world. Having your hair done can make you feel more beautiful and confident in yourself. On Display acknowledges the impact hair has in this society, exemplified by the many Black women that spend hundreds of dollars for wigs, hair products, and salon appointments.

    Lastly, the print Blood, Sweat & Fears by Jerushia Graham suggests that although we have managed to endure our current grim reality, there are many problems still to face. A person may love their country and be willing to die for their country, only to die by the hands of their country. Equality for Black individuals has improved, but it is not enough. We have only moved from a regular prison cell to one with a window—where freedom is so close but yet so far. Change is coming, but we as a country need to continue to stand up for what is right despite our different challenges and backgrounds.

    Jeavanie Desarmes

  • Jeavanie Desarmes graduated from Kennesaw State University as an honor student with two bachelor's degrees in biology and music education. During her pursuit of two bachelor's degrees, Jeavanie worked within the College of the Arts as a student assistant at the ZMA, House Manager with COTA Patron Services, and as a symphony assistant with the KSU Symphony Orchestra.

    Jeavanie plans to attend medical school to become a neonatal physician or pediatric surgeon. Outside of research, church, volunteer work, leadership positions, and musical activities, Jeavanie loves to spend time with God and her parents, two sisters, and their "squad" of pets.



  • Auntie,
  • Pass Away
  • Blood, Sweat, & Fears
  • Daughter Slave Wife Mother
  •  Dearborn Heights

  • This exhibition is curated with the ongoing conversation of Civil War monuments in mind. Many Civil War monuments were created hundreds of years after the end of the war by groups such as the United Daughters of the Confederacy which employed the same racist views as the Klu Klux Klan but without the violence. The erection of these statues was a not-so-subtle reminder of who America idolized — men who fought for the right to enslave black people. Not only did these monuments loom over black people but they supported a romanticized version of life in the south for everyone including slaves. As these monuments are taken down, relocated, and provided with a new context, what will stand in their place to bring to light a truthful history. Their successors should reflect honest feelings and narratives of what it is like to be black in America.

    History has revealed the black Mammy figure as yet another myth that white supremacists have used to justify slavery. Phyllis Fulp’s Auntie is a series of ceramic statues resembling Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup container which strongly resembles the Mammy. Fulp’s piece illustrates the degradation of the Mammy as she is stripped away of her poised and polished exterior to reveal the true horrors of slavery. Pass Away offers another reference to the Mammy figure. The bust of a black figure hovers above a frying pan which is fitting as the Mammy was seen as the overseer of all domestic affairs within their master’s home. The lack of eyes leaves the bust without an identity and thus anyone could be placed into the stereotype. The figure also resembles a deceased person which draws a parallel to the death of the Mammy as it is slowly being removed from American popular culture.

    Blood, Sweat, & Fears speaks to the transient nature of being an African American. While black people may have generational ties to the United States they are still persecuted as dangerous others. The figure in this piece has their hand raised, suggesting an attempt to enter a world that they are prohibited from, while also suggesting an attempt to break free from a society that deems their life to be of less value. The tombstone, Tia Blassingame’s Daughter Slave Wife Mother Rhyme, is a reminder of how blackness can be fatal. Blassingame uses her work to inspire contemplation and conversation about racism. In an interview with the University of Utah Blassingame touches on some of her goals when creating art; “in today’s climate, it is necessary to counter the attempts to portray black people, particularly black women, negatively with images of artistry and creativity.”

    The narrative within this exhibition is not meant to be morbid and sad, however this is the unfortunate truth of being black in America. The final piece in the exhibition is a true monument. Mildred Beltre’s Sanford, FL 2/26/12; Dearborn Heights, MI 12/2/13, honors the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Renisha McBride who were two black people killed because of the negative connotations of their skin. This work serves as a reminder of why the fight for equality and accountability continues, so that more black people do not end up needing to be memorialized. Moreover, this piece provides a hopeful future where the discussion of the systemic oppression of black people is becoming louder and reaching more people.

    Sofia Green

  • Sofia Green is a senior at KSU studying Art History. She began working at the Zuckerman Museum of Art during her first semester of college in 2016. Over the years, she has assisted in installing numerous exhibitions, worked with the collections, trained as a docent, and assisted with various special events and programs. Unfortunately, Green's time at the museum is coming to an end due to her upcoming graduation date in the Spring of 2021. Her time at the museum has been "more valuable than I could have imagined," states Green. Her favorite thing about working at the museum has been the opportunity to speak with artists during the installation process.



  • My Very First Thought
  • Dans l'au-delà
  • Church Scene
  • Spanning Two Lands
  • Paranormal Weather
  • Sad Songs & Regrets
  • Let's Roll
  • Question “One”

    On a daily basis, people of color are confronted with malevolence, injustice, and cruelty. The African American artists I have selected for inclusion in my exhibition serve to combat these conditions which have been defined by white colonialism, privilege, and myopic perspective. The specific works presented attempt to bridge the canyons that have created great divides in our society. It is my hope that this exhibition provides the viewer with a better understanding of the need for empathy and respect for all human beings, for it is the differences between us that make the world beautiful and worth living in.

    I also aim to recontextualize the viewer’s understanding of ideas associated with the word one. One has the ability to be used descriptively in both a quantitative and qualitative manner. The numerical definition of one refers to a singular unit. Non-numerically, one is used to be descriptive, to refer to that which can be observed but not measured such as qualities and characteristics. I intend for the viewer to thoughtfully consider how the implications of and meanings of one can create uniqueness and unity while also having the ability to create imbalance and division.

    The first work in my exhibition, My Very First Thought by Stan Chisholm, invites the viewer to begin questioning one. This work presented as a solo piece, stands individually while the works that follow are featured in pairs with categories presented as body, land, and expression. The purpose of having this work function as the introduction to my exhibition and be presented without a category, is to provide the viewer with a clear visualization of the concepts emphasized.

    Dans l’au-delà by Walter Pierre, and Church Scene by Bernice Sims are grouped within the classification of body. Thus, the viewer can witness humanity as comprised of human bodies that are naturally diverse in color, form, and existence. Dans l’au-delà by Walter Pierre uses simple colors and shapes to create human faces that beckon the viewer to contemplate humanity at its biotic level. Church Scene by Bernice Sims depicts the movement of figures with bright, bold colors that conjure thoughts regarding spirituality. This pairing summons the viewer to consider the biology of the human body alongside the essence of human life.

    The category of land is represented by the works Paranormal Weather by Aaron S. Coleman and the work spanning two lands by Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo. The colorful work, Paranormal Weather, coupled with the monochrome work, spanning two lands, evokes various notions of perspective. Juxtaposing these similar scenes with opposite color schemes asks the viewer to consider varied approaches when interacting with the land.

    The final category denoted as expression contains the work Sad Songs & Regrets by Jerushia Graham and the work “Let’s Roll” by Jasmine Williams. These two works use related shades and hues of green to depict different artforms of humanity. This category beckons viewers to ponder how different forms of expression are equally necessary to bring significance to life.

    With this exhibition, I hope to encourage profound thought that will bring about change and healing for all of humanity. The differing colors of human bodies, the uniqueness of cultures spread across the land, and the multi-faceted forms of expression incorporate profoundness into human existence. Uniqueness and unity need to be in balance with each other to bring about a world where humanity can flourish. Moreover, respect and empathy must be the foundation with which we regard fellow humans for our world to be harmonious.

    Katie Peterson

  • Katie Peterson is a junior at KSU studying Interactive Design. After graduation, Peterson would like to be a UX/UI designer. Katie has worked at the museum for one year and is a trained docent.

    During her time at the ZMA, Katie Peterson has developed many useful skills such as learning about curatorial practices, museum operations, and how to facilitate a discussion around works of art with audiences. Her favorite part about working at the museum is being immersed in diverse works of art and learning about the talented artists who create them.



  • Self-imposed Opposition
  • In Good Hands
  • Dans l'au-delà
  • Wooly,
  • Defeated
  • Pass Away
  • Cultivating Culture in Breakable Boundaries

    When laws are designed to benefit a singular group of people, they push everyone else further toward the margins. These margins, while constructed like borders intended to restrict and reduce, have simultaneously become an ideal environment for culture and creativity to grow deep roots. The artists within this exhibition have not only broken out of the boundaries of their mediums, but have begun to surmount the ideologies that attempted to suppress them.

    The themes explored by the artists in this exhibition are unique and creative. For instance, Althea Murphy-Price uses her own hair to construct prints that address beauty and its relationship to female identity in her piece, Self-Imposed Opposition. Her work Wooly is a small, square two inch magnet. These pieces defy the traditional boundaries established in the medium of printmaking by setting and then breaking, literal boundaries within the pieces themselves. For example, notice how Pass Away, by Delita Martin, is printed directly on top of lines of newspaper text. The newspaper's margins can be seen as metaphoric representations of cultural and systemic boundaries set in place to restrict growth. These pieces uniquely and gracefully break these boundaries, which is analogous to the cultures these artists represent.

    The process of printmaking is an integral part of this exhibition. The medium encompasses various forms of relaying ink from one surface to another. Inside this large bracket of printmaking are small pockets of innovation cut from the whole, allowing the process itself to be refined into something entirely new. Breaking boundaries has proven to be a long and strenuous process. It’s multigenerational. But it is entirely possible.

    Noah Schmitz

  • Noah Schmitz is a media and entertainment major at KSU and a member of the Joel Katz Music Business program. He plans on graduating in the spring of 2022. Schmitz has worked at the Zuckerman Museum of Art for one year and is a trained docent. He has participated in the museum’s installation process, art handling led tours to diverse audiences, and facilitated many general operations.

    During his time at the museum, Noah Schmitz has learned how to be open and personal with others while discussing works of art on display. He has also become more comfortable talking in front of large crowds through his training as a docent. His favorite thing he has learned is how to handle art and prepare the museum for upcoming exhibitions. Schmitz’s favorite part about working at the ZMA is connecting with others and learning new things.



  • Start/End: Inclusion/Exclusion
  • Dearborn Heights
  • Auntie
  • Container
  • Self-imposed Opposition
  • On Display
  • Daughter Slave Wife Mother Rhyme
  • LINES OF DEMARCATION: The Mark-Maker's Arabesques

    “… power is imbued in the images and objects we create, and that imbued power, embodied in these images and objects, is malleable.”

    T.K. Smith from exhibition Striking Power text

    Immense recognition is owed to Black artists who have obliterated obstacles through the weaponry of their mark-making. Marks manifest meaning, insight, and realization through the indelible expression of ink on surface. Line, the simplest of components, multiplies itself into forms and shapes which purposefully expand each artists’ voice from script into a written language without restrictions. The works I have selected for my exhibition bestow visual testimony to the power actualized when line becomes a commodity of countermeasure, shattering the attempts to repress that which is indomitable in every human spirit. The theme connecting these works is one of confinement versus emancipation, where line and form express the force of a spirit which cannot be repressed.

    In the work, Start/End: Inclusion/Exclusion, by Louis Some, the artist traps full and empty circles beneath a transparent layer of ink. Oppositional dots face off on fields of blue, marking starting points that create a sense of anticipation. The contour of these basic geometric forms represents the constraint of energy.

    In the work by Mildred Beltre, Sanford, FL 2/26/12; Dearborn Heights, MI 12/2/13, containment is presented as a keepsake locket holding the memories of another. This piece redacts the identity of the portraits, alluding to the intentional removal of personal identity. The vivid background further emphasizes the negation of the individual through the busy patterned backdrop. Auntie, by Phyllis Fulp, evokes a similar loss of identity in the replication of bottle forms, but closer inspection reveals the subtle individuality of each container.

    As Fulp documents the evolution of these containers morphing, and degrading, likewise the works by Althea Murphy-Price express the transformational breaking of boundaries. Her print, Container, is alive with roiling red filaments reaching the boiling point. Potential escape from the vessel is imminent. In another print titled Self-imposed Opposition, delicate lines having extricated themselves now define the container as negative space. The trilogy of prints is completed with On Display. Here, the filaments are entirely unbound, suggesting a total emancipation of the spirit.

    The themes of containment (bound) and emancipation(unbound) theme continues in the work of Tia Blassingame. The photograph, Daughter Slave Wife Mother Rhyme, is comprised of borders and a succession of overlaid geometric shapes. The headstone acts as both a weighted symbol upon a gravesite and a statement proclaiming the multiple identifiers of the deceased. The carved imprint contrasts the permanence of passing with the ephemeral status of earthly presence. Each artist speaks for the human need to be remembered and validated which is what unites us as human beings. The artists speak for all who share similar needs and experiences, arriving where we cross lines of division, break free of confines, and come together at a place of unity.

    Barbara Travis

  • Barbara Travis is a senior at KSU with a major in Fine Arts and a minor in Art History. She previously completed an Art Education Degree at Indiana University and an Ed S. at West Georgia University. Travis recently completed a special topics course in the History of Art Museums and Markets, where she tapped into her new interest in curation and museum practices. Travis has shown works in the New Visions exhibition and looks forward to more opportunities to show her work publicly. Barbara has been a volunteer docent at ZMA for a year. Being a docent has expanded her understanding of contemporary methods for exploring and experiencing art in the modern museum space. She aspires to expose a wider variety of community groups to the beautiful exhibits at ZMA.



  • Fluxing
  • C.R.E.A.M
  • Sad Songs & Regrets
  • Circle of Life
  • Crazy Train
  • Reclamation: Your Voice from the World

    The following works selected are a broader scope of expression that matches in intensity and vibrancy, creating pathways for enabling Black artists to be themselves in a world that sees Black as just a race. Growing up as one of the only mixed-Black kids in the suburbs of Saint Louis revealed to me how singled out one could feel – and how much everyone thought I should act in accordance to what was normal— conformity. As such, I believe it is more important than ever to showcase oneself in the most ostentatious ways so that one can truly claim a sense of self when surrounded by people and environments that erode solid identity.

    Each work I have selected illustrates a grand style through color, shape, and interpretation beyond conventional means. While topics such as money, power, and American identity are easily explored in these pieces, links can be established to include solid Black identity, which compose a story that speaks to needing something for yourself— a voice. This voice is one that many in the Black community must claim for themselves, lest be shadowed into submission by a larger, often bleak and unfair future. Together these works champion the voices of many people, however alone or not they may feel, while helping them find their lost voice.

    In showcasing art from Black artists, one must consider how various artists choose to present their thoughts, emotions, and persona in a piece – such ways of prose can develop in multiple manners involving expression often deemed “ostentatious”. For example, Fluxing by artist Korey Richardson, communicates its message through images of money and showcases the ideals of power that wealth provides. Power can also be viewed as a voice and in many cases is one of the most important attributes of our livelihood in society. In a world that often disregards people – especially the Black community – turning to ostentatious expressions in art often both

    secures a feeling of importance, meaning, and sense of self in ways rarely seen in modern-day, aside from internet virality. In order to truly claim your voice from this world that seeks to make you conform to sorrows and subjugation, you must be ostentatious, grand, and everything in between that forms you.

    Ferguson Wright

  • Ferguson Wright is an Asian Studies major at KSU, focusing on Japanese to aid non-English speakers in the future. Wright also has a background in Chinese and hopes to learn Korean soon. He has been working at the ZMA since he first began studying at KSU over two years ago and loves how the museum changes every semester.

    Through the docent training at the museum, Ferguson Wright has learned many teaching techniques that will go a long way in helping people understand key concepts in English, art, and culture. The training has enabled him to gain a deeper understanding of other languages and cultures. Wright’s favorite part about working at the museum is that there is new art every semester that he can learn and share with audiences.