Two College of Arts & Letters students were winners at MSU’s 4th Annual Social Justice Art Festival. Charlotte Bachelor, a junior Professional and Public Writing major, and Nicolei Gupit, a second-year Studio Art MFA student, were two of the four students to receive awards at the four-day virtual festival that celebrates student artwork centered on social justice topics.
Bachelor won the Most Out-of-the-Box Award for her prints and multiples, titled A Call to Protect Our Black Sisters, and Gupit won the Most Inspiring Visual Art Award for her Tracings entry.
Charlotte Bachelor’s A Call to Protect Our Black Sisters
Bachelor created her A Call to Protect Our Black Sisters prints and multiples piece after the murder of Breonna Taylor and the subsequent capitalization of her name and image. The piece is a call to action to protect all Black sisters no matter what.
“My art relates to social justice because it’s a call to defend, as Malcolm X described, ‘The Most Disrespected Person in America’ — the Black woman,” Bachelor said. “It’s a call to still defend Black women even when our names aren’t in the headlines. This is a call to protect our Black sisters at all times.”
The Most Out-of-the-Box Award is given to the artist or performer with the most unique artistic concept or creative medium. The winning piece is selected by the Social Justice Art Festival committee based on originality, effort, level of risk, level of artistry, and overall quality of work. In addition, the committee considers how the artist communicates their artistic vision in relationship to social justice starting from the application process through the completion of the festival.
Nicolei Gupit’s Tracings
Gupit’s installation art, Tracings, asks viewers to reflect on the socioeconomic disparities that shape educational experiences today, the same socioeconomic disparities Gupit saw in the Los Angeles Unified School District institutions she attended in her youth.
Gupit used chalk, correction tape, and a digitally made projected image of the ZIP codes of inner-city Los Angeles in the creation of this piece to express segregation and inequalities in education. Both whole and fragmented pieces of chalk were used to signify the quality of education in each ZIP code of inner-city L.A, with each color representing a specific ethnicity within the city and small, broken chalk pieces representing people with limited access to quality education.
“My aim in making this work was to spread awareness of racial and socioeconomic inequalities in inner-city L.A. as well as those experienced around the world at local and global levels,” Gupit said.
The Most Inspiring Visual Art Award is given to artists in visual and performance art categories. The winning pieces are selected by an external committee based on a determined rubric.
2021 Festival Held Virtually
The Social Justice Art Festival took place virtually January 18-21, with a live closing ceremony where the artist awards were presented. The festival was created by James Madison College (JMC) Director of Diversity Programming and Student Engagement Amber Benton and hosted by JMC and the Residential College of Arts and Humanities.
With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting in-person events, the Social Justice Art Festival committee successfully adapted to host the festival virtually through the Social Justice Art Festival website and had live Q&A chats with artists.