Black Arts and Music Festival highlights local artists through exhibitions

The artist Jamie Malone, an Iowa State alumn, had seven pieces in the Grand Staircase Gallery of the Ames Public Library.

Logan Metzger

With Black History Month well underway, the Ames Public Library celebrated it with a weekend full of activities and art.

The Black Arts and Music Festival, which took place Saturday and Sunday, showcased five artists and their artwork in the Ames Public Library.

The five exhibits will be on display until Feb. 15 when they are taken down.

The first artist is Chinemelum Amara Agba, an Ames High School student and the youngest of the artists.

She had 10 pieces that were displayed in the Youth Services Area.

Her artwork ranges from woodcut prints to digital paintings and drawings. One of her pieces, in particular, is a woodcut print of a black girl wearing a black beret with the words “Danger, Educated Black Girl” surrounding her.

“Agba is an Ames High School student who sees her future in graphic design and interaction design,” according to the festival’s brochure. “[Agba] creates posters, logos and infographics for organizations and studies web code in hopes to design websites in the future. She has also participated in the Ames High School Memory Project and is an active member of the National Art Honors Society.”

The next artist is Jamila Johnson, an Iowa State alumna.

She had six pieces that were displayed in the Youth Services Area.

All of her pieces were prints, including linoleum prints, linocuts and lithographs. Many of her pieces were of prominent individuals from the black community, including Thurgood Marshall, Phillis Wheatley and Sojourner Truth.

Johnson gave a printmaking workshop on Saturday in the Youth Makerspace for kids grades first through fifth. During this workshop, kids and their parents were able to make their own prints similar to Johnson’s but using styrofoam instead of wood.

“[Johnson] draws upon her previous experiences and sense of identity to create her work,” according to the festival’s brochure. “Through various mediums, she can share her point of view with the world.”

The next artist is Jamie Malone, an Iowa State alumn.

They had seven pieces in the Grand Staircase Gallery.

Malone’s artwork was all paintings, but many also included other media such as textiles, glitter or embroidery. One of their pieces titled “Death” was a combination of two canvases where they got angry at their first piece and then proceeded to tear it open with scissors before adding a second canvas behind and painting flowers bursting through the hole.

Malone said they did all of their pieces in the last month, which is the first time they started experimenting using textiles in their artwork. They said a lot of their inspiration comes from romanticism and baroque pieces.

The next artist is Cameron Gray, a graduate student in art and visual culture.

He had four pieces displayed in The Gallery.

All of his pieces were created out of burlap bags. One piece that stood out from the rest was a green-colored burlap bag with the shape of multiple faces coming out of it, titled “Weighted and Frayed Thoughts.”

“Cameron Gray was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1991,” according to the festival’s brochure. “It was growing up in Birmingham, he started to see the effects of racism. It was these feelings that he focused on when he entered his first art class at Auburn University. Most of his work deals with social issues through community involvement. Gray currently lives in Ames, Iowa, where he is a graduate student at Iowa State University.”

The final artist is Juliana Jones, a local artist from Ankeny.

She had 13 pieces that were displayed in The Studio.

All of Jones’ pieces were in the form of hand-cut paper art in shadowboxes. Five of her pieces were connected through the theme of koi fish, and each was unique with different koi in their own “ponds.” Jones said koi are one of her biggest inspirations, and a koi fish was her first piece of paper art.

Jones gave a paper art workshop on Saturday in The Studio for teens and adults. During this workshop, attendees were able to make their own paper art shadowboxes of a mountain scene.

“Juliana Jones is a local artist based out of Ankeny, Iowa, whose work is mainly focused in 3-Dimensional Handcut Paper Art,” according to the festival’s brochure. “As a military brat, she has traveled all over the United States, Japan and Europe. Her life experiences are woven into the art that she creates. They are a mixture of mediums, textures, genres and cultures. She hopes that her art helps people connect with a time, place or experience.”