JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Students will hit the stage this weekend at the Ritz Theatre as part of this year’s Black Art Showcase, which shines a vibrant light on those who are often overlooked.
The students from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts will use their artistic talents to have their voices heard in a unique way.
“A lot of black students at Douglas Anderson feel almost invisible sometimes because we aren’t put at the forefront as we should,” said Miracle Singleton, executive director of the Black Art Showcase.
Students at DA have a colorful desire to be seen.
“I know myself and a lot of other students, we walk through these hallways feeling invisible as black students because we are the minority here, it’s a majority white school,” said Kenya Thompson.
Invisibility is a common theme for students of color, exposing the need for creative representation.
“Middle and high school are hard for anyone but then when you have people of color who don’t see themselves represented in the area that they are supposed to be here for, right? They’ve come here for the arts and they’re 22% of the population. And so they need to see themselves represented in classrooms,” said Alexa Caron, co-sponsor of the Black Art Club.
That need is why more than 150 students are speaking up in their own unique way by producing a showcase expressing their experiences.
“To have that moment on stage where it’s you and the audience and they’re paying attention to what you have to say about your people, it’s unmatched,” Thompson said.
For the first time in the Black Art Showcase’s history, it will take place at The Ritz and led by three black women. The event is at 6 p.m. Saturday at 820 Davis St. North. Tickets are $15 at the door.
Fittingly, this year’s theme is “Enlightenment.”
“We chose enlightenment because we wanted to showcase the good parts of our culture. We challenged our artists to not only release that pain they were feeling but to flip that and show the good things they were feeling as well," Thompson said. “So that they’re not just giving one story to what being black is.”'
These students want to defy all the narratives and stereotypes through their own creative space by showing people there is more to who they are than what others perceive.
“We’re all not gang members. Or we all aren’t trying to fit into the stereotype or statistics that people have put upon us," Singleton said. “That they’re black kids who love art who are free and willing to show that.”