St. Olaf College | News

Art exhibit gives a voice to marginalized communities on the Hill

UPRISING IV co-curators Amanda Rose '21 (left) and Bridget Asamoah-Baffour '21 in Flaten Art Museum.
UPRISING IV co-curators Amanda Rose ’21 (left) and Bridget Asamoah-Baffour ’21 in Flaten Art Museum.

“This show was created in response to the [2017] protest against racism and discrimination on campus, so the exhibition aimed to address that by giving a space to marginalized voices and Black voices on campus.” — Amanda Rose ‘21 

Four years ago, Shaquille Brown ’19 developed and curated an art exhibition at St. Olaf College called UPRISING. This show, which has become an annual exhibit in the Center for Art and Dance, “narrates the experiences of Black people while celebrating Black history and culture through art.” This year’s exhibit, co-curated by students Amanda Rose ’21 and Bridget Asamoah-Baffour ’21, is titled UPRISING IV: Visions and Reflections.

The art featured this year includes works by both locally and internationally recognized artists. The exhibition will include all mediums of expression, as well as performances by singers, musicians, poets, and dancers during the virtual reception.

The poster for this year’s UPRISING exhibit.

Rose and Asamoah-Baffour say their desire to get involved and serve as co-curators of UPRISING stems from their own artistry, activism, and ability to connect with other students during the event. “It’s been cool to meet a lot of student artists on campus. I feel like there are a lot more artists in general compared to what I thought, and I’ve met a ton of people just through UPRISING,” says Rose.

Asamoah-Baffour agrees, adding “it’s nice to connect with all the artists of color, especially Black artists on campus because I know a lot of us are artistic but aren’t necessarily in the [art] program.”

The goal of UPRISING is to foster community while providing a space for BIPOC students. “There aren’t very many large Black culture-themed events on campus, and especially not during Black History Month. Also, many of the exhibitions that include student work are really difficult to get into,” Rose says. “A lot of the time the work shown in galleries on campus is selected from students who are in art classes. And we also know that a lot of minority and low-income students don’t take art classes — especially because the cost of materials can be a burden for them.”

A glimpse into the UPRISING exhibit in Flaten Art Museum.

UPRISING is a way to uplift these voices through art and encourage more interaction between students, faculty, and staff. “Personally, I’m not involved in any of the fine art departments, but it’s just been nice to have this to sort of be my art major. Being able to actively be involved in one of my hobbies has definitely been a big takeaway on both the social justice side, and on the artistic side,” says Asamoah-Baffour.

Students and community members are excited for the fourth installment in the series, and the co-curators are happy to plan an event that people can look forward to during the pandemic. Although UPRISING is typically a Black History Month event, COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings at the beginning of the semester made it necessary to open the exhibit in March. However, they still have the opportunity to celebrate all Black voices.

The UPRISING IV exhibit in Flaten Art Museum.

“On campus, there have sometimes been divisions between African-American students, African students, and other Black students from other parts of the world. So I also think UPRISING tries to include all Black identities, not just in the U.S, but also international Black students as well,” Rose says.

The opening reception will be held virtually on Zoom on March 12 at 4:30 p.m. Central Time. The exhibition UPRISING IV: Visions and Reflections will be open from March 5–April 12, 2021. 

On-campus students, faculty, and staff are welcome attend the exhibit while following the COVID-19 Community Standards, but visitors are not allowed on campus. Please review Flaten Art Museum’s hours and COVID-19 safety protocols prior to visiting.