This Black History Month, the Charlottesville Black Arts Collective has several special events on the roster, each aimed at fostering conversations that showcase local Black artists, expressing their individuality and shedding light on the Black experience. From compelling exhibitions to a celebration of Black cinema, these events are sure to convey Black excellence in all its forms — both in Charlottesville and beyond.
The Charlottesville Black Arts Collective, or CBAC, is a group of Black artists striving to support the local Black arts scene by providing a platform for artists on social media, at local exhibitions and more.
According to founding member and artist Kori Price, CBAC hopes to generate opportunities for Black artists through their work.
“Our mission really is to be a connector and a touch point for Black artists to the community in Charlottesville,” Price said.
Founded in 2020, CBAC was born when a group of local artists were tasked with curating an exhibition on Black art for the McGuffey Art Center in Charlottesville.
“While we were focused on making the exhibition happen, we realized we had something special,” Price said.
The exhibit received immensely positive feedback from community members. Realizing the necessity of their work, the group decided on a name for the organization and formalized their efforts.
“It felt special to us — the group felt special, and the purpose of exhibiting Black art and having a focus on Black art felt special,” Price said.
CBAC routinely partners with local galleries, hosting exhibitions at the McGuffey Art Center and Studio IX. Most recently, the collective hosted a show entitled “About Face: Pt. 1 Siren Eyes,” which featured digital art created by 13-year-old Charlottesville native Samari Jones.
Currently, several CBAC members are showcasing artwork in “Black Joy Is: Ferocious, Fearless, Forever, Female, For Me”. Curated by CBAC member Veronica Jackson, the exhibit features works from nine women, each of which explores how Black women experience joy. Open now until March 25, the exhibit is located in the Piedmont Virginia Community College Gallery.
Although its exhibits most often feature traditional visual art, CBAC is now showcasing Black creatives in film as well. This Black History Month, CBAC has teamed up with Alamo Drafthouse in Charlottesville to present “Black Voices,” a film series celebrating movies made by or starring Black creators.
“A lot of our Collective members want to find ways to embrace all types of art, even if most of us are more on the visual art side, and that includes film,” Price said. “While we love and embrace all types of art…film just feels like such a natural way to celebrate Black history.”
A variety of genres and forms make up the series, from the 1994 basketball documentary “Hoop Dreams” to Denzel Washington’s stellar performance in the biopic “Malcolm X.” This Saturday at 1:15 p.m., the theater will be showing “Wattstax,” a documentary of a music festival featuring legendary performers like The Staple Singers, followed by a showing of “Training Day” on Feb. 28 at 7:45 p.m.
A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales for “Black Voices” will go towards the Collective.
Next month, CBAC plans on hosting “Blackity Black Black,” another show at the McGuffey Art Center. It will comprise works from 35 artists working with a variety of mediums, including paintings by Ayah Davis-Karim, photography by Robert Scott and spoken word poetry by Christopher Sims.
According to a statement from McGuffey Art Center’s Instagram profile, the exhibition will celebrate Blackness, culture and heritage in all of its many forms.
“We are here to celebrate everything that is Blackness,” the statement said. “This exhibition will be a statement of our people, presence and pride. It will be all Blackity Black Black everything.”
“I’m incredibly excited for this one,” Price said, revealing that the exhibition will be the Collective’s biggest one yet, featuring more artists than ever before.
“It’s just a really unapologetic celebration of Blackness,” Price said. “I think it's gonna be really great to just feel that energy as you're walking through the hallways in the McGuffey Art Center.”
When CBAC is not hosting exhibitions, the group uses social media to provide a platform to promote Black artists in Charlottesville and beyond, decorating their Instagram profile with shoutouts to local artists and upcoming exhibitions.
As CBAC continues to expand its horizons, its members hope to not only give Black creatives a space to share their work but also to give them tools and opportunities that will encourage them to prosper.
“I don’t want any artists to just survive — I want us to thrive,” Price said. “I want there to be a constant conversation about the value of art, and I also want to support Black artists in attaining what they want to attain… and [in making] money while they do that.”
Thanks to the efforts of the Charlottesville Black Arts Collective, which has cemented itself as a leading force in the Charlottesville arts scene, Black art continues to spread, flourish and be celebrated.