Communication Center hosts Transcend: An African-American art exhibit and film

By: Adriana Valtinson, Editor-in-Chief

After the closing of the 40-4-40 art exhibit, RSC has opened another, but for African-American art. The film opened with a reception and film by director, writer and co-producer J. Leigh Brantly.

“Transcend: Part 1 & 2 Five Black Artists by Five Black Artists” features works from Skip Hill, Nathan Lee and Suzanne Thomas, a professor of art at RSC. The exhibit, which opened Monday, Oct. 18 in the Communications Center Lobby, was be available until Friday, Nov. 19.

Brantly’s film includes interviews of artists conducted by artists. “It is a non-fiction art film about a community of black artists,” Brantly said. “We really tried to expose [the] African-American experience here in [Oklahoma].”

She described the film as a quilt made up of different chapters that represent the patches. “I wanted us to be invited into their experiences,” Brantly said.

Skip Hill said the title, “Transcend,” is a reference to art transcending ethnicities and cultures. “Our mission is to educate everyone,” Hill explained. “Ideally it’s to use as a vehicle for community outreach. Perhaps we’ll be an inspiration to minority children, but ideally all children.”

Brantley explained that, with the film, they are hoping to address “hot button issues,” such as sexual identity and political issues. “It’s not heavy handed,” she said. “I personally want to see people talk about these issues… of prejudice. It’s called Transcend because it transcends what it is.”

Continuing to say, “It’s something very near and dear to my heart. Being female, a director, I don’t think people should be put into a box.”

Nathan Lee, who co-produced the film with Brantly, described the art in the exhibit as “really diverse” saying, “I think it brings more exposure to the African-American artists.” He added, “I think it shows we’re unified in our ideas as far as our art community. It shows we’re dedicated to expanding in our art community.”

“The common theme is that we’re all African-American artists,” Suzanne Thomas said. “I think it’s important that we all— African-American or European [among others]—see that. We know we’re good at singing and dancing, but we can make pretty pictures too.”

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