Gonzaga University marks Black History Month

variations by whitney evans colors of toast
"Many Variations" (Whitney Evans, Black artist exhibiting at the Urban Arts Center)

February 02, 2022
Gonzaga University

SPOKANE, Wash. – Two art exhibits, a musical performance and a conversation about mass incarceration highlight Gonzaga University’s observance of Black History Month.

"Home: Imagining the Irrevocable” features the works of Black artists in Eastern Washington. Visual, musical, literary and other artists explore the concept of “home,” drawing inspiration from this James Baldwin quote: “Perhaps home is not a place, but simply an irrevocable condition” (in “Giovanni’s Room,” 1956). The exhibit seeks to examine how “home” has – and continues to be – defined by Black Americans amid the historical and contemporary challenges of displacement, marginalization and otherness. The exhibit, at the Gonzaga University Urban Arts Center, 125 S. Stevens St., will open with a reception Friday, Feb. 4, at 4 p.m. It continues through Feb. 26. Guest curators are Olivia Evans and Tracy Poindexter-Canton.

Whitney Evans, whose work, "Many Variations," is shown above, is a contemporary artist with pop art influences. "My work encourages personal interpretation," she said. "There is no direct answer to my work, but instead an entanglement of process, questions, emotions and my own intuitions." The piece featuring shades of toast has drawn more feedback than she anticipated, and she welcomes it "because it starts a conversation." 

Gonzaga students’ artwork with a social justice lens will be featured in “Black Excellence & Influence,” an exhibit to be held Feb. 15 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in Room 314 of the Hemmingson Student Center.

On Feb. 18, that student artwork will be celebrated from 4 to 7 p.m. as part of the “Home: Imagining the Irrevocable” exhibit, described earlier, at the GU Urban Arts Center on Stevens Street.

The annual Black Student Union dinner will be held Feb. 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Hemmingson Ballroom. Dance and other performances are part of the program, which has the theme “Hidden Magic: Revealing the Beauty of the Black Community.” Tickets may be purchased online.

At the Woldson Performing Arts Center on Feb. 26, GU Choirs will present their Social Justice Concert “Hold Fast to Dreams” at 7:30 p.m. The free program has themes of resilience, remembrance and responsibility. Selections highlight the struggle for social justice, Black history and excellence, LGBTQIA+, gender equity, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the plight of refugees.

Performing will be the Concert Choir, Chamber Chorus, Discantus Treble Chorus, and Glee Club with conductors Darnelle Preston, Jadrian Tarver and Amy Porter. Pianists will be Annie Flood and Garrett Heathman along with community partners. A pre-concert lecture begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall.

Capping the month will be two events on Feb. 28.

The first is “A Conversation with Michelle Alexander,” author of the New York Times bestseller “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” that drew fresh attention and praise with a new edition on its 10th anniversary in 2020.

Alexander brings insights on the practice of mass incarceration in the U.S. justice system as well as eye-opening conversation on how to end racial caste in America. In her bestseller, Alexander peels back the curtain on racism in the American prison system and argues that mass incarceration has come to replace segregation. Learn more about the event and register here. 

Preceding this event is a noon-hour discussion: “Do We Actually Need Prisons?” It is part of the “Controversial Questions” series, a monthly lunch dialogue planned for Hemmingson 314. The discussion will focus on Alexander’s bestseller and set the stage for her evening presentation.