African American artists take center stage: VU Shircliff Gallery of Art exhibit spotlights extraordinary drawings

In Blackest Shade, In Darkest Light poster

February 06, 2024

VINCENNES, Ind. – Experience the vibrant tapestry of Black American culture at a Vincennes University Shircliff Gallery of Art exhibit during Black History Month. The exhibition is a celebration of exceptional talents, creative brilliance, and profound narratives of African American artists.

"In Blackest Shade, In Darkest Light" is a traveling exhibition (Feb. 16 - March 15) of seven Black American artists working in drawing. It will feature works by Kumasi Barnett, William Downs, Kenyatta Forbes, Patrick Earl Hammie, Lovie Olivia, Stacey Robinson, and Charles Edward Williams.

An opening reception is Friday, Feb. 16, at noon in the Shircliff Humanities Center, 130 E. Harrison St. The show is curated by Hammie, a professor of art at the University of Illinois. Admission is free and the public is welcome.

"Vincennes University is proud to host an exhibit that amplifies the rich diversity and cultural depth of African American artists," Shircliff Gallery of Art Director and VU Professor Christopher Schneberger said. "This showcase honors their all-important contributions and serves as a beacon of inspiration and reflection during Black History Month."

It is the first time VU is hosting a traveling exhibition, and the gallery will welcome several artists on campus to create works in the gallery. The exhibit centers around drawing as a technology from which artists speculate, recover, and collect communal histories, manifesting stories of desired futures from the margins of imagination into the realities of the everyday.

The show’s title takes inspiration from the DC Comics Green Lantern Corps’ oath, “In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil's might, beware my power, Green Lantern's light,” from which members of the fictional space guardians access magical strength and gather the will to challenge adversaries using their imagination.

The artists in the exhibition revel in horror, Afro-futurism, magical realism, Ethno-gothic, fantasy, Black Quantum Futurism, utopias and dystopias, and superheroes. They draw from cultural aesthetics and philosophies of science and history to explore and improvise within set boundaries and beyond. Their work speculates toward un-fixing the physical, political, and social knowns and imagining how we will be and become.

Drawing is an instant gateway for dreaming, recording, and sharing ideas. It moved from mainly private practice to a form that asks questions as equally bold as other media. Today, artists utilize drawing to hack into and build networks that engage across scholarship, art, and community.

The Shircliff Gallery of Art is located at 130 E. Harrison St. in Room A109 of the Shircliff Humanities Center at the corner of First and Harrison streets on the Vincennes Campus. Admission is free. Gallery hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m., and by appointment. For more information, contact VU Professor and Shirfcliff Gallery of Art Director Christopher Schneberger at 812-888-4316 or email at

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