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Virginia art student creates 'very personal' works to celebrate Black History Month

'It still hangs in my office. I look at it every day.'
Posted at 3:30 PM, Jan 29, 2023

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. — College art students are preparing pieces for a public art show in honor of Black History Month in February.

The 2nd annual Black History Month Emerging Artist Exhibition is being held on Friday, Feb. 3 starting at 10 a.m. It will be held at Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay, located at 3100 Shore Drive in Virginia Beach.

Emerging artists from Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University, and Virginia Wesleyan University will be participating. Organizers say the students will also be eligible for thousands of dollars in scholarships, and money from all the artwork sold will go directly to the artists.

“Our residents just so enjoy art anyway, but the idea of seeing life now, from a different perspective…,” said Ellen Duckworth. “The idea was how do we, as a corporate citizen, honor Black History Month from a retirement community but also acknowledge how far we’ve come in art and education and to give young people a chance to have this experience.”

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Norfolk State University senior Tiffany Ebanks is majoring in graphic design. She has five pieces that will be on display this time. Some of them are from a series called "Around the Kitchen."

She used items passed down from her family to create the images, and she says it's a growing series. She hopes others will submit photos of a kitchen item that is special to them, so she can create art with that as inspiration. Some of her artwork is displayed at Commune restaurant in downtown Norfolk.

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Last year, Ebanks entered a collage that featured words/answers her family gave to her during a questionnaire. It was designed to help her learn more about her family. She said it was the first time she put a personal piece of art on display.

“I just thought it was so personal that there’s no way that someone else can relate to it,” Ebanks explained. “And then when Ellen came along, she was like, ‘No, this is me.’”

Duckworth had the collage in her office, waiting to be displayed at the art show. But she said it grew on her so much that she decided to buy it.

“Now, it still hangs in my office. I look at it every day, and I find inspiration in it every day to become that powerful light, that mediator, that empowered woman who is starting over and rebuilding her life,” Duckworth stated.

The 2nd annual Black History Month Emerging Artist Exhibition is Friday, Feb. 3 only. It is free and open to the public. To RSVP, click here.

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