Art exhibit spotlights Black History Month

Carley Nail

Beautifully glazed ceramic mugs and vases along with eye-catching photography showing true emotion are displayed together in the same room.

An art exhibit called “Visiting Artists” opened earlier in January, featuring works from Benicia King and Adonis Johnson. 

Their artwork has been showcased for almost a month, so King and Johnson held a gallery talk last Wednesday to discuss the story behind their work.

King is a successful photographer known for captivating images in a black and white style. Many of her pieces focus on Black nationalism as a commodity and Black men and their masculinity through fashion.

“Despite the industry’s use of Black culture and identities, fashion is and will always be a universal tool to relate to the social and cultural context of an environment,” King said.

King also gave a list of influential African Americans and encouraged the audience to do their own research, as she did not learn about these people from school but had to figure it out on her own.

While King brought amazing photos, Johnson shared another creative form of artwork—pottery. 

Johnson is a former ULM art student, and he now owns Casals Pottery in Lafayette. After graduating from ULM, Johnson joined the military and eventually became a staff sergeant in the United States Air Force Reserve. 

As Johnson’s life became military-focused, he felt he had lost himself.

“As soon as I touched that clay again, it’s like my life became what it was supposed to be again,” Johnson said.

Junior art major Trinity Bass said her favorite art piece from the gallery was a teapot that had the outward appearance of a house.  

The piece was functional but had a unique eccentric exterior. Johnson stressed the importance of functionality, but also having part of your art be representative of yourself.

Johnson began to go through his works, referencing Black history and his cultural background as the inspiration behind some of his pottery.

He uses a dripping technique on many of his ceramics.  While speaking about his family’s slave history, he explained that the drip work represents Black tears.

Johnson finished his talk by giving tips for the art students that attended the event.  He shared steps to selling your art and the basics of making pottery.

“Visiting Artists” will be displayed in Bry Gallery until Feb. 11.