Scenes from Black Lives Matter street mural painting

Scenes from Black Lives Matter street mural painting

Students, faculty, staff and community members joined together on Thursday, Oct. 1 on Castle Drive to enjoy music from the NIU Black Choir, percussion and jazz ensembles of the NIU School of Music and a performance by students in the NIU School of Theatre and Dance, and to paint “Black Lives Matter” on the street between Davis Hall and the east lagoon. The event was presented by the NIU Center for Black Studies and the College of Visual and Performing Arts. 

NIU to host art for social justice event to paint Black Lives Matter at the university’s entrance

NIU to host art for social justice event to paint Black Lives Matter at the university’s entrance

The Northern Illinois University Center for Black Studies and the College of Visual and Performing Arts are hosting an art for social justice event, “Art and Soul.”  The event will be held Thursday, October 1, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the main entrance of the university on Castle Drive. The Huskie Bus Line buses will be rerouted from noon Thursday until Friday morning.

The entire community is invited to join together to help paint “Black Lives Matter” on Castle Drive.  Paint, rollers, and brushes will be supplied.

Participants will be limited to 50 at any one time, but attendees may join in at any time throughout the afternoon to make their mark and show their commitment to social justice.

Safety measures will be followed. Masks must be worn. Wipes will be used to clean the brush handles and rollers after each use.  Safety protocols will be facilitated by members of the Center for Black Studies and students in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

In addition to the group painting, there will be performances and speakers throughout the event, including the NIU Black Choir, jazz ensembles, percussion ensemble, dance improvisation, and readings from a variety of texts.

“The paint used is water-based and non-toxic,” said Paul Kassel, Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “It is expected to last through the rest of the fall semester. Though the image may fade, our commitment to social justice and to a strong Huskie community will remain vivid and strong. We believe that one answer to a hateful act is an act of affirmation of our values. It is in that spirit that this event is being held—to testify and signify to all that NIU holds an unshakeable belief that Black Lives Matter.”

For more information, contact the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ Donee Spizzirri at dspizzirri@niu.edu.

Theatre and Dance students host Black Art Matters open mic event

Theatre and Dance students host Black Art Matters open mic event

The School of Theatre and Dance Student Advisory Committee sought to give students and alumni an outlet for expression by hosting Black Art Matters, an online open mic night, July 10.

Brandon Sapp, a BFA Acting major and member of the Student Advisory Committee, said the purpose of the event was to provide a way for “art to be present in the midst of all the tragedy.”

More than a dozen students and alumni participated in the open mic night, with performances ranging from spoken word, to poems, to songs.

“We wanted to create an event that would make black artists feel their talents and art was enough to contribute to the fight of racial injustice,” Sapp said. “We wanted to provide a platform that encouraged free expression without judgement and to feel confident to speak out. I was amazed by the grate amount of black artists who came out and shared their work.”

Sapp said the idea is for Black Art Matters to become an annual event, and that the school’s Student Advisory Committee will develop a Black Art Matters website to give BIPOC students an opportunity to express their thoughts, support the work of black artists and black owned businesses, to showcase past shows with black representation and suggest ideas for events for their artistry throughout the academic year.

He said it was gratifying to see the open mic performances. “Seeing everyone collectively stand firm in their truth, however it appeared, was amazing to me,” he said. “It made me feel like we are more than capable of fighting against racial injustice constructively and willing to support each other during tragic times. During the event, we asked for donations toward the Black Lives Matter Movement and for everyone to sign a petition for Breonna Taylor, which was just as impactful as the event itself.”

NIU Artists. Never. Quit. – Penguin Project choreography

NIU Artists. Never. Quit. – Penguin Project choreography

The cancellation of the season’s final performances in the College of Visual and Performing Arts had an impact on all students, but for senior dance performance majors Chloe McCoy and Katie Meyer it not only wiped out their final dance performance, but left them in need of finding a show to “tech” as part of their requirements.

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NIU Artists. Never. Quit. – Choreography students get back to nature

NIU Artists. Never. Quit. – Choreography students get back to nature

As NIU and the world around us deals with a global pandemic, artists continue to find ways to express themselves. In the College of Visual and Performing arts the learning and teaching hasn’t stopped, it’s simply evolved to meet the needs and limitations of the situation. Over the coming days, we’ll be featuring how NIU students, alumni and faculty in the arts are continuing to do what they love.

The abrupt change to learning from home has been a challenge for all NIU students and faculty. In every challenge there is an opportunity and few groups were impacted more, or have responded as creatively as those studying and teaching dance in the School of Theatre and Dance. (more…)