The University of Maryland community invited area female artists of color to talk about their work and experiences. The Women of Color Artists Panel was held on Feb. 26, at the Edward St. John Learning & Teaching Center as a part of the Black History Month programming from the Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy (MICA) office.
The purpose of the panel was to pay homage to those who overcame hard circumstances and made contributions to their field and their innovations. It was created to allow UMD students to get in touch with their creative side despite the rigidity of certain majors. The panel creators also wanted to advocate for inclusivity in creative spaces.
The speakers came from a plethora of backgrounds and career paths.
Temiloluwa Akisanya published “Let the Stories Begin: The Reflection Workbook,” which centers around reflection and growing from the past.
Yngrid A. Chacon creates “pop memes” that combine her Latinx identity and popular culture through visual art.
Safiyah Cheatam is a co-producer of the podcast Obsidian, exhibition designer at UMBC’s Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture and a research assistant at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Nikita Yogaraj is an artist that highlights diverse women and feminine bodies in her work.
Jasmin Dixon is an editor for The Vibe Room, a DMV area publication that highlights creatives and their stories. This diverse group of women provided a complex and unique outlook on the role of women of color in creative spaces.
The panel consisted of many interesting topics. Here are the four that I found the most impactful.
The first one was the struggles that come from being a woman of color in the heteronormative art world. They suggested that when navigating heteronormative spaces, it’s important to know that women deserve to be in those spaces and should not be afraid to set new boundaries.
The fields that the panelists work in are male-dominated, so they emphasized that women of color in those fields have to be their own advocates in order to tell their own stories and be considered equal in the workplace.
The panelists also discussed their career paths. I found their comments on creating networks especially interesting as they suggested to start networking in college.
Finally, the panelists discussed their creative inspirations. The panelists were asked by an audience member how they incorporated their experience into their art. Yogaraj said that her work is informed by her experiences being a “hairy brown girl” and how women are told from a young age to be ashamed of their natural bodies.
She said, “growing up…nobody talks about the things that you see on your body.” Now, Yogaraj uses her art to open up conversations about the female body.
The panel shed light on issues that women of color in the creative community face. It also proved how integral women of color have been in recent developments in creative spaces. I encourage all women to attend an event like this one as it was educational, uplifting and inspiring.