Black folx are known to be a people of movement, bringing authenticity and creativity to every space we inhabit, and in these spaces, we actively engage in homemaking. But what is home? Particularly for a people of the diaspora. How are our communities impacted and shaped when we return home? This exhibit answers those questions. The African American Cultural Center presents Kurudi Nyumbani, an art exhibit that centers on the work of Black alumni artists and their contributions to the greater community. Join us as we celebrate the work of our own.
We are proud to feature the following artists; J Stacy Utley, Britney Symone, Jason Franklin, and Robyn Bess.
Their work captures and embodies blackness in creative and innovative ways.
Visit the gallery to experience Kurudi Nyumbani.
October 25 – December 3
Meet the Artists
Robyn Bess is a digital and film portrait photographer. Her love for photography began at a very young age picking up the nearest camera and photographing what she saw around her. Her love for photography is shared with her father and grandfather which makes it that much more special. She recently relocated back to the Charlotte area and when she’s not behind the camera she enjoys being a freelance graphic and web designer or even being a model herself.
She appreciates the beauty of capturing authentic moments of life, love, happiness, blackness, and more. Her growing passion for film photography has blossomed into a new form of storytelling that she is ready to continue to explore. She experiences and edits every shot differently ensuring that those who step in front of the camera leave feeling seen. As a black woman, she will always move with authenticity and hope that it is shown in the art that she creates.
American Narrative Artist, Jason Franklin, uses the human form and negative space to narrate past and present stories about his history and culture. He continues to use painting, photography, and video to focus on American living, particularly in the South. His work alternates from impressionism to contemporary realism. Typically, he tells quite stories that resonate after multiple viewings. Jason’s work is heavily influenced by Lope Max Diaz, Charles E Joyner, and Barley Hendricks, which is clearly depicted in the painting- “A Trinity”. He is the owner of the Triangle Cultural Art Gallery, LLC in Raleigh, NC.
Britney was born in Plainfield, New Jersey in 1996. She started drawing as soon as she could hold a pencil and rarely doubted her passion for the arts while growing up. She spent her childhood sketching, painting, designing, and practicing music. She pursued art more intentionally throughout high school, when she attended Durham School of the Arts, began entering art contests and exhibits, and started considering how to make her passion into a long-lasting career that she could love.
After graduating high school, she began practicing digital artwork in early 2015 while studying at a community college. She fell quickly and deeply in love with the craft, enjoying the freedom it offered to create anywhere at any time. She majored in graphic design at NC State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in December 2019.
Her work evolved into its current narrative with the piece Let Black Women Be Soft, 2018. It comments on the stereotypes that women of color are faced with, challenging the idea that they cannot be soft, emotional, and delicate while standing strong in those traits. The signature tears featured in the portraits were born of this stream of thought.
Britney is heavily inspired by Mother Nature, world cultures, holistic spirituality, artists of color, Romanticism, and the divine feminine. She is drawn to the motif of emotional vulnerability in her work. She finds strength in the softness that comes from opening up and sharing her pieces – which often highlights the delicate, ethereal side of life.
J. Stacy Utley is a critically acclaimed artist whose work addresses complex narratives found within the African American diaspora. Utley is limitless in his experimentation with medium, shaping his body of work in ink, watercolor, oil and chalk pastels, acrylics, and found or sourced objects. His collages, assemblages, paintings, and drawings address the topics of displacement, cultural appropriation, religion, race, mental illness and sexuality. Conversant topics of the African American community that shape identities and are not always comfortable to discuss.
Utley is a graduate of North Carolina State University, College of Design where he received a bachelor’s degree in Architecture. His career as an architect/designer has both influenced and provided a rich source for his work. He went on to receive a Master of Fine Art from Lesley University College of Art and Design in Cambridge Massachusetts. Utley has shown nationally and internationally. Exhibiting his work in solo and numerous group exhibitions that includes the 2021 Venice Biennale Architectura for his collaboration with Evoke Studio for the Five Points Plaza public artwork. His executed works can be found in private, public and university collections including North Carolina State University and Johnson C Smith University.