Frame of Mind 2021

“Untitled sculpture” by Eric Andrew is one of many pieces displayed at Art Ventures’ Frame of Mind exhibition in Downtown Fayetteville. Andre is a studio and lab technician in the ceramics section at the UA School of Art.

Downtown Fayetteville art gallery Art Ventures Northwest Arkansas is highlighting ten Black artists’ voices and creations with an eclectic exhibition that made its debut during Black History Month.

Frame of Mind 2021, which opened Feb. 5 and runs through March 28, is an art exhibition featuring a variety of works created by Black artists from across the African diaspora, including Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Northwest Arkansas and elsewhere.

Featured works range from oil paintings and sculptures to digital designs and more.

The gallery’s staff wanted to contribute to the local community by highlighting diversity in art and the artists who create it, Art Ventures Board President Sharon Killian said.

“It’s very important to us that we are building community through art,” Killian said.

For Frame of Mind 2021, the Art Ventures team recruited both artists with previous relationships to the gallery and artists it had not yet worked with, for the exhibition, Killian said.

Former Fayetteville resident and featured artist Donavon Brutus, 34, said he thinks that when a group of creatives like those represented in Frame of Mind 2021 comes together, it can bring attention to the diversity present within minority groups.

“It’s just really great just to see,” Brutus said. “I think, especially when thinking about these minority groups, because most people don’t have the opportunity to get to know a large number of people from these communities...I think that’s how people get stereotyped and have these preconceived notions about people from various groups.”

For Fayetteville resident Joëlle Storet, 32, another featured artist, the exhibition is a documentation of Black experiences in Fayetteville and the anxiety she has become accustomed to when dealing with alienation from others.

Storet hopes her featured work will stand out in a way that will start important conversations, she said.

“I think it’s important because it provides a great stage to Northwest Arkansas providing an insight for the arts from various artists from different backgrounds,” Storet said.

Through her artwork, Storet tries to convey issues and values that were often ignored before the COVID-19 pandemic. Mental health, self-discovery and the Black Lives Matter movement are central themes in her work, Storet said.

“Being a part of the Black diaspora, I felt like it was an opportunity to speak about my trauma that I have dealt with my whole life, visually,” Storet said. “And that includes alienation, which is something I have struggled with for a long time.”

This is Art Venture’s second year presenting the Frame of Mind exhibition for Black History Month. Last year’s theme focused on the African American community’s ability to survive and thrive in the face of adversity and oppression. Killian, a Black artist herself, said that because the challenges faced by Black Americans remain ongoing, she did not want the essence of the show to change this year.

“It seemed to me that nothing much had changed in our cultural survival and our battles, and so we didn’t really need to change the premise of the show,” Killian said.

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