Looking Back: 2007 African American Celebration Month featured art and culture


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Alonzo Edwards poses beside his painting “2 Samuel 13.”

In January 2007, the Association of Black Students (ABS) commemorated African American Celebration Month at Oakland University with “Heart of a People,” an art exhibit that featured the work of Jamar Lochart, Alonza Edwards and Personal Preference Art Network (PPAN).

“We chose Jamar Lochart because he’s an OU alumni, Alonzo Edwards because he’s only beginning to take the first steps as a professional artist and Personal Preference Art Work because they are comprised of established professional artists,” Angelica Prophet, the event’s coordinator, said. “The choice to feature these artists gave us the opportunity to demonstrate that art has value in terms of the cultural contribution at any stage in an artist’s career.”

In the 2007 exhibit, Lochart featured pieces from his clothing line, Jamar Artistic Designs, which launched in 2003. Within his clothing line, his father’s musical influence in his art is evident.

Edwards said his spiritual acrylic paintings merge tensions of life and the word of God. 

“My goal is to be a professional artist, painting spiritual scenes,” he said. 

His paintings throughout time represented his progression, from portraying ranges of emotion, like in his painting “Essence of Anger,” to interpreting scriptural references, as in “2 Samuel 13.”

PPAN offered varieties of paintings that were symbolic of the rich cultural heritage celebrated at the event. Their group motto is, “Beautifying the world one home at a time.” 

“We offer to personalize homes with art by doing an in-home art show, featuring 25 paintings that correspond with a client’s taste,” said Margaret Dennis, a member of PPAN. “Art visually depicts the warmth, emotion and beauty of all cultures. It lets us know that within all nationalities there is talent, strength and pride. It allows everyone to see the difference, in each culture, while respecting it by bringing this world into our homes through art.”

With the wide-range of music and food, the “Heart of a People” exhibit encouraged a good atmosphere and the incentive for the event was achieved. “Through the strength of my ancestry, still I rise” the theme of African American Celebration Month brought people together to bond over the shared history and art.

“Art plays an important role in human life, period. It’s exciting to know that every culture has its own art,” Lochart said. “This is representative of an inherent cross-cultural ink. Even though they might seem incompatible and opposite, they’re really not at all.”

ABS, which still meets today, put this exhibit together to inspire and celebrate the culture and people of African American Celebration Month. 

“Art touches everyone,” ABS President Mia Evans said. “It shows the African American heart — exposed, but immune to discrimination because of the absence of the physical presence.” 

2020’s celebration started last week with the Keeper of the Dream event on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The celebrations occur until Thursday, Feb. 20.