College students showcase for emerging African American artists at Spring Valley Library

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Nicole Lewis, teacher and head librarian at Platt College San Diego School of Multimedia Design, said it is ironic that the Academy Awards are held during Black History Month considering this year’s dearth of African American nominees.

Nicole Lewis, teacher and head librarian at Platt College San Diego School of Multimedia Design, said it is ironic that the Academy Awards are held during Black History Month considering this year’s dearth of African American nominees.

“There are many ways we need to work toward equality in our country and one is to create opportunities for emerging Black artists to showcase their work and develop more award-winning artists in the future,” she said. “This is one part of a bigger picture in solving a systemic issue in our country.”

To that end, Platt College has created Changing Times: Changing Tones, a show featuring the photography, painting, and graphic design of 10 African American student artists who share their work in photography and graphic design with visitors to the Spring Valley Public Library through February, Black History Month.

“The artists include various themes and rouse conversations about the essence of African American art and culture and their roles in political change, empowerment and contribution to a multicultural society. Changing Times, Changing Tones illuminates the diversity, elegance, endurance, progression, and voluminous tones of a people,” said Lewis, whose self-portraits are included in the show.

Assisting Lewis in the curation of the show are students Jonelle Crowder and Tiana Cobble. Crowder’s piece is entitled “True Beauty,” which she says is a message to all women that they are beautiful regardless of cultural norms and expectations.

“I’ve seen women down about the way they look, if their hair isn’t right and I wanted to express a positive message through my art,” said Crowder.

Cobble submitted two black and white photographs: one of her father, the other of her brother.

“My dad has experienced struggles as an African American man, but he is always joyful,” she said. “My brother’s face shows rejoice and freshness and that shows all that my father’s hard work and sacrifice has paid off and the benefit has been passed to the next generation.”

The set represents a message of reflection and hope.

“It is such an honor to not only curate Changing Times: Changing Tones, but to submit my own work,” said Lewis. “My grandmother and mother raised me to walk to my own rhythm and never let anyone define me. My mother grew up during the Jim Crow Laws and did not have the expressive freedom that I am afforded today. She loved fashion and drawing but was discouraged by the racist society she grew up in. She urged me to follow my artistic passions and to be myself. It is important to be part of a show like this one because it gives me a voice and shares with the public the many textures of who I am, not only as an African American woman, but as an artist,” she said. “We hope everyone see something new about the African American experience through the eyes of these emerging Black artists.”

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