Weaving a tight-knit community of black artists is one of the primary goals of the Artist Showcase, a networking opportunity and arts celebration on 7 p.m. Friday at KAOS Network. The Artist Showcase is a part of the Black Student Assembly’s CreEx (short for “creative experience”) initiative and showcases a diverse cast of artists of color who work in different mediums and styles.
“A frustration within the community is that there aren’t a lot of opportunities for them to express themselves freely, without having to compromise themselves or their art,” said Jazmin Hall, co-director of logistics for the BSA’s upcoming showcase. “The CreEx Artist Showcase is an opportunity for BSA’s constituents to ‘be black and showcase our culture.’”
The artists involved were selected through a competitive process spearheaded by Celeste Butler, the event’s A&R specialist. An online open application period preceded two days of live auditions. Butler and Hall’s team worked to include a variety of compelling, original pieces and represent artists in different disciplines. For example, Hall cites senior Omete “M.C.” Anassi, neuroscience and theater double-major, as an especially dynamic performer. He will perform a spoken-word piece at Friday’s showcase, and Hall said that his ambitious, heartfelt and powerful poems often run over seven minutes.
“The people who are producing this show are artists themselves. They understand the needs and the goals and the desires that they have. We want to make sure that the events that we provide are actually beneficial,” Hall said.
While vocal artists and performers occupy the stage, attendees can check out the paintings and visual art that adorn the walls.
“This should be a lot to look at,” Hall said.
The event is hosted at KAOS Network’s Leimert Park venue. KAOS also runs a nearby store that sells African Products. Hall said that her team chose the off-campus location on purpose.
“We wanted to bridge the gap between USC and UCLA,” Hall said. “We wanted to take our students off campus and immerse them in our culture.”
The Artist Showcase is part of a series of CreEx events that will culminate in Gearfest, BSA’s upcoming annual arts festival in February. The CreEx team will unveil the Gearfest promotional video on Friday.
Hall hopes that the Artist Showcase will be of mutual benefit to the artists involved, BSA and the USC community.
“We want to make sure every event is also a networking opportunity. Hopefully, on Friday night they meet someone they can collaborate with,” she said. “Some of our students are working on EPs.”
If the event is successful, it will become an annual tradition. Hall said that she hopes to involve more students from the fine arts next year.
“We all get to meet somewhere in Los Angeles and have a showcase,” Hall said. “It could go on to be something really epic.”
The Artist Showcase is free for USC students and $5 for others. Further information can be found on BSA’s Facebook page.