There are many talented people in this world, but only some come out on top. The reason many people don’t make it has less to do with their abilities, and more to do with how they are viewed by others. One group here in Chicago is looking to change that. The Black Artists of Today (BAT), located at DePaul University, is a group that gives African American individuals a voice, even when they’re not heard. I had a chance to get to speak to the great guy who created this group, Jordan Wallace. Check out what he had to say.
What is the overall mission of Black Artists of Today?
Our overall mission as a group is to create a space in which Black artists are free enough and safe enough to be as creative and open as possible. Something that we as artists go through that’s been happening for a while is that there is colored based casting or discrimination within the theatre community. Something that we want to push on a lot of Black artists here at the Theatre School is that there are opportunities to create pieces about yourself and about experiences that you go through but that all connect us together. It’s a matter of giving that reassurance to artists that you can create artwork on your own even when the mass population will tell you that you can’t.
What inspired you to create this group?
The inspiration came from a friend of mine who came from a very strong ethnic theatre group back in Atlanta and from there they just felt that something was missing from their theatre school, and that is the representation of Black artists and Black stories. So they reached out to all the Black artists my first year as a student and asked if I’d be interested in being part of an organization that focuses on giving voices to Black artists. Immediately I was like “Of course, definitely.” From there it’s been more than that; it’s been a network throughout the community.
What do you expect people in the program to get out of their experience?
It’s funny that you ask that. The other day we had a meeting and one of our members was saying that she feels that no matter what she goes through on a daily basis, she knows that Black Artists of Today is a place where she can come so she can be herself. This is something that will always be dear to her heart as an artist and as a creator. As a Black woman she feels like there are so very little spaces in which she can truly be herself. So not only are we helping the artists have that confidence and comfortability being a part of the organization, but we also want to make sure that they pass that forward to other Black artists or artists of color.
If you or someone you know has questions about joining Black Artists of Today, reach out to Wallace by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). On social media the group can be found on Facebook: Black Artists of Today and Instagram: Blackartistsoftoday.
By Angel Brito, Senior, Lane Tech