- December 9, 2014
Art by Black artists is experiencing a national renaissance. Thanks to one local nonprofit, it’s also experiencing a regional renaissance. The second annual “Visions in Black” exhibition, presented by the Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative, showcases work created by Black artists living and working in Florida.
“The prolific output of Black artists has attained a dynamism not found since the early 1970s,” says Michéle Des Verney Redwine, founder and executive director of SBAC.
“The concept for this exhibit was created to build a collective of Florida artists of African descent with a focus on emerging artists and students.”
Redwine, who is an artist and has also served as an educator and equal employment opportunity specialist with years of executive leadership experience, established SBAC in 2018. Her goal? To promote greater exposure of Black artists and their work through advocacy, education and collaboration. Since then, the organization has become known for its innovative initiatives, including inspirational panel discussions, collaborative cultural events and cutting-edge exhibitions.
The 2022 inaugural “Visions in Black” exhibition displayed the work of 26 artists. Krystle Lemonias was one of the them.
Lemonias, who is also a labor activist and arts educator, champions the revival of Black art and the celebration of young artists like herself. A native of Jamaica and a fine arts master’s candidate at USF, Lemonias says she draws inspiration for her artwork from the intersecting concepts of class, gender, economic inequity, citizenship and labor rights.
“With everything that has happened with the Black Lives Matter movement, that kind of galvanized showing Black artists’ work,” Lemonias said. “Black artists have always been creating and exhibiting in community spaces. I just think they’ve been put more on a pedestal now.”
As of press time, Marlon Tobias, coordinator of the 2023 “Visions in Black” exhibition, did not have a total number of participants but says he anticipates that this year’s exhibit will exceed last year’s.
According to Tobias, the initiative has already gone a long way to build community among Black artists and artists of color throughout Florida.
“As a Black artist, I understand the importance of access, visibility and community,” says Tobias, who is a painter. “With the support of the community, we can grow ‘Visions in Black’ as a premier exhibition for future Black and brown artists in the years to come.”
Jesse Clark, an artist and a student at Ringling College of Art and Design, was selected to coordinate the program at area-based colleges this year.
“I believe it’s important to diversify voices within the art world, as there is so much to be learned from one another,” says Clark. “To have SBAC provide opportunities like this exhibit for emerging Black artists means we are one step closer to that. It also validates Black artists and shows that their talents deserve to be recognized. I’m honored to work with an organization that is building that platform.”
As SBAC continues to grow, Redwine says it aims to strengthen bonds with regional museums, art centers, cultural organizations and galleries “to pursue collaborations that will expand the horizons for artists of African descent and collectors.”