Juneteenth art exhibit features local Black artists

Published 12:15 pm Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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New to this year’s Juneteenth Celebration, ‘Unity in the Community” will be an art exhibit at the P. S. Jones Museum of African-American Education featuring the work of three area artists’. “We are very excited for the opportunity to showcase the exceptional work of some of our local Black artists,” said event co-chair Sarah Godley. “The P.S. Jones Museum of African-American Education seemed like the perfect venue to put their unique talents on display during our full weekend of festivities.”

Daysha May can proudly say that she was chosen to create the logo for this year’s Juneteenth Celebration T-shirts. “To be given the opportunity to work with the city of Washington, on such a monumental occasion, has been simply amazing,” said May. “It also gives me pause when I realize there was a time not too long ago when we were not afforded this opportunity. This is an example of what my grandparents fought for, equality. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to show that we are not just a monolith, but can do whatever we put our minds to, not just someplace where societies box us in. Hopefully, this will serve as an inspiration to others.”

A native of Greenville, May said from her earliest memories she has always been into art, crediting both her father, who is an artist, and her grandfather who liked to draw. She graduated from UNC Greensboro where she studied studio art and entrepreneurship. She is now pursuing her dream of being a full-time artist. “I look at myself as blending my love of traditional art mediums such as pen and ink, and acrylic, with digital mediums,” said May. “The reality is we are all people who have gifts to give and special things that we do. As long as you focus on what you want to do and do it to the best of your ability you will succeed.”

Tony Ward, a Washington native, is a nationally recognized artist, having won a “Pfizer Science Will Win” award in 2020 for his piece “We Must Do It.” That work has been memorialized by Pfizer and is being used globally. His art was also featured at the American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association Spring Conference in 2023.

Ward became interested in drawing when he was four or five years old when he used to ask his father to draw a face and he would try to sketch what he did. “I was never as good as him, but I kept practicing as it always piqued my interest,” said Ward. “After a stint in the Navy, I attended City University in New York City with the intent of becoming an X-ray technician and had the opportunity to take an art class. It was instructed by Alvin C. Hollingsworth, who I would find out later was a very famous artist in New York City. He showed me so much and I credit him for putting a brush and canvas in my hands for the first time. He taught me the tricks and I could see faces in trees, or a sidewalk, the clouds, or a rock. And, I started painting them.”

Ward considers much of his work as Black art and controversial. Moments in time that have grabbed his attention. “I would just grab ahold of what was in my mind and put those images down on the canvas,” said Ward. “Being asked to display my art at the P.S. Jones Museum of African-American Education is very special for me,” said Ward. “But in the end, I try not to put so much emphasis on what I do, but look at it as more of a gift and a moment in time that God has led me to.”

Romello Boston is only 13 but he already knows what he wants to do, and that is draw. Boston is the national winner of the U. S. Cellular African American art contest and has been awarded for competitions at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plain, Washington Unit. He said his favorite things to draw are people and cartoon characters. “I like doing people because they are easier to draw and cartoons because they are just fun,” said Boston. “I primarily use pencils or black ink when I draw. I want to do this full-time, start my own business, and have my own art studio where I can show others my work. If that doesn’t work out I just may cut hair.”

Boston added that he is honored to have been asked to show his art as part of Juneteenth celebrations. “It is very special for me,” said Boston. “People will be able to see my art and everything that I’m doing. It feels great.”

The artists’ work will be on display at the P. S. Jones Museum of African-American Education on Saturday, June 15 from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Transportation will be available to and from the annual Juneteenth festivities being held at Beebe Memorial Park, from 4:00 pm – 7:30 pm.


For more information visit the event’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/931925841769206/permalink/931925851769205.