Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Obsidian magazine, Black Queer and Trans Collective host artshare, open mic event to celebrate student art

Naina Srivastava
Julia Otofu Ayaku, an art history and African and African Diaspora studies sophomore, and Kendall Ketchum, an arts and entertainment technologies freshman at the UT Poetry Center on March 21, 2024.

With all the joys, pains and vulnerabilities that accompany poetry, each student will step up to the mic or accompany an art piece full of expression. Friday’s event goes beyond appreciating performance, however, and personifies a rebellion against silence, a celebration of identity and a declaration of existence. 

Black culture magazine Obsidian and the Black Queer and Trans Collective will host the Black Queer Artshare and Open Mic Friday from 6-8 p.m. at the UT Poetry Center in the Perry-Castañeda Library. The event will showcase and discuss student poetry, music, visual art and other creative works. 

Julia Otofu Ayaku, co-founder and styling director of Obsidian, said the collaborative event arose in response to Senate Bill 17, which bans diversity, equity and inclusion offices and practices at public Texas universities. They said Obsidian plans to work with other Black student organizations to connect new students with crucial resources and foster community.

“It’s important at this moment that we work collectively and pool resources to support each other because of the lack of institutional funding and support,” said Ayaku, an art history and African and African diaspora studies sophomore. “We decided to collaborate and use it as an opportunity to uplift members of both of our orgs and encourage them to express themselves, especially (at) this time (when) we are being essentially silenced.”

Jayden McCree, BQTC operations officer and economics and African and African Diaspora studies freshman, said they will present their poetry portfolio, “Eden.” Inspired by poet KB Brookins’ “Freedom House,” McCree said the poems envision a reality where Black LGBTQ+ people live in a safe and peaceful world that heterosexual and cisgender people already experience. They said poetry transforms negative feelings and creates necessary detachment from them.

“It’s a way to package those emotions and be like, ‘Those are separate from me now,’ especially with this heartbreak that you experience realizing that the world, at least in your lifetime, will never be like Eden,” McCree said. “At the end of the day, you have the power to transform your own perspective, and that’s what I hope people can gather from my art.”

Kendall Ketchum, arts and entertainment technologies freshman and Obsidian art director,  said he plans to share three digital art prints: a portrait of his friend, one based on Gustav Klimt’s “Judith” and a mixed-media piece.

“(The event) is important to me because I get to live out my purpose as an artist, which is to have my art seen and share my expression with the world,” Ketchum said. “It is good for us to get out, connect and share how we feel about each other’s artwork so that we can grow all as a community.”

Located near the Black Queer Studies Collection, McCree said the event anchors Black LGBTQ+ and trans art within academia.

“Our existences, our lives, our poetry is academia,” McCree said. “Putting it into that realm through this experience, especially having it in a library where there (are) poetry catalogs of our work, I think that that’s really transformative. It’s uplifting to assign our experiences, our poetry, our words with this level of gravitas that comes with academia.”

More than displaying art, Ayaku said the event will raise funds and uplift minority voices on campus.

“It’s, in a way, protest because we are saying that we will continue to take up space and we will continue to proceed and run the way we have been in the past,” Ayaku said. “I want administration to take notice.”


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