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Art Gallery Will Be Part of Jan. 21 Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration
Syracuse University’s 39th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration will include an art gallery exhibition in Club 44 on the western concourse level of the JMA Wireless Dome.
To express the celebration theme of “The Reach of the Dream,” seven local artists were selected to show their works in the specially designed gallery, which will be open to the public on Sunday, Jan. 21, before and during the celebration dinner. The art gallery will open at 4:15 p.m. and the dinner will begin at 5 p.m. For more information, visit mlk.syr.edu.
The exhibition will spotlight artists Sharif Bey, London Ladd, David MacDonald, Brandan Meyer, Rochele Royster, Melquea Smith and Iris Williams. Curators for the exhibition include Qiana Williams, Jaleel Campbell and Cjala Surratt of the Black Artists’ Collective; Ken Harper, associate professor of visual communications and art curator in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications; Ajajielle Brown of the Department of African American Studies, Emily Dittman of the Syracuse University Art Museum and Dara Harper of Hendricks Chapel.
Sharif Bey is associate professor of studio arts (ceramics) in the School of Art in the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA). Shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, Bey studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Slovakia. Later, he earned his B.F.A. from Slippery Rock University, his M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Ph.D. (in art education) from Penn State University. His awards include the United States Artist Fellowship, the Pollock-Krasner Fellowship and the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. Bey’s works are featured in numerous public collections including the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Columbus Museum, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Mint Museum and the Nelson Atkins Museum, among others.
London Ladd, instructor of illustration in the School of Art in VPA, has had his work featured in critically acclaimed picture books, newspapers, magazines and community-based murals. His artwork is a mixture of acrylic paint, cut paper and tissue paper, creating rich, vibrant textures. Ladd’s illustrations can be found in the books“Black Gold,” “Oprah: The Little Speaker,” “Under the Freedom Tree” and “March On!: The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World.”
David R. MacDonald, professor emeritus in VPA, is an acclaimed and celebrated ceramic artist. MacDonald joined the faculty of the School of Art and Design in 1971. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, MacDonald’s work received most of its creative inspiration from his investigation of his African heritage. MacDonald draws much of his inspiration from the myriad examples of surface decoration that manifests itself in the many ethnic groups of sub-Saharan Africa. MacDonald’s work spans the complete spectrum of ceramic forms of a utilitarian nature.
Brandan Meyer is a ceramicist from Syracuse. Studying at SUNY Oswego, his primary focus is on evolving his craft as a ceramic artist and exploring his capabilities through the medium. This is expressed through his pottery, as well as his experimentation with clay instruments. Finding inspiration from his political ideologies, familial heritage and personal connections, he creates work that not only reflects his roots, but sparks conversation that revolves around culture, empathy and unity.
Rochele Royster, assistant professor of art therapy in VPA, is a seasoned artist, community psychologist and educator who finds inspiration from people and community. Her upbringing, immersed in the rhythms of the South, was a fertile ground for creativity, where she learned the importance of the connection to land, rituals, and customs, and people. Proficient in quilting, printmaking, and various dye and resist techniques, Royster breathes new life into discarded materials, crafting narratives that echo themes of blackness and the resilience of ordinary individuals navigating worlds where patterns become as integral as the people they adorn. Through a meticulous examination of life’s rhythms, Royster invites viewers to reflect on the resilience and beauty that persist amidst life’s clutter and chaos.
Melquea Smith is a Black, Queer, multi award-winning children’s book illustrator based in New York. Known as a certified kid at heart, she adores illustrating magical stories with animals, mythological creatures and dragons. She specializes in illustrating Black children of all shapes, colors and sizes. When not illustrating, you’ll find her watching the newest animated movies, learning about Japan, studying Spanish with her cat Kilala, and giving love to her other cat, Bumblebee.
Iris Williams is a visual artist born and raised in Syracuse. She has a passion for bringing her creative ideas to life. She is heavily influenced by the Black community and finds it important to find innovative ways to include, empower and represent it in her projects. She experiments with various art forms, refusing to limit herself to just one. However, her authentic and creative expression has led her to develop a particular interest in digital art.
“We’re excited to highlight the talents of these extraordinary Black artists and champion the richness of Syracuse’s artistic community,” says Cjala Surratt, co-founder of the Black Artists Collective and member of the MLK Art Gallery Committee. “This exhibition recognizes both established and emerging talent within Syracuse’s artistic landscape and promises to be a source of inspiration for individuals of all ages. We hope to spark creativity, ignite curiosity and foster a deeper connection with the arts.”
More information on the celebration
Tickets for the dinner and program, which will include student and community group performances, presentation of the Unsung Hero Awards and a keynote address from Talithia Williams, are now available.
For more information about the MLK Celebration or to request accommodations, contact Hendricks Chapel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 315.443.2901. Learn more about this and other Hendricks Chapel events by visiting chapel.syracuse.edu.