BASE calls on all of VCU to celebrate Black art at their annual showcase

This Friday, Nov. 1, Black Art Student Empowerment holds their fifth annual Art Showcase at the Anderson. Starting at 7 pm, visitors can experience art across the gallery’s second floor, which will also be host to live performances and complimentary food.

“We want this to be more personal,” says Shayne Herrera, painting and printmaking sophomore and current BASE president, “and really connect the artists and the people that surround the community.”

This year, the organization broadened their call for submissions to the showcase by directly inviting the entire VCU student body to submit work. Non-arts majors have always been welcome to participate, but BASE leadership wanted to combat the perception that only arts majors could apply to the annual exhibition. Now, BASE anticipates that this year’s event will be the biggest, most inclusive show they’ve ever organized.

“I was the president at one point and wasn’t even in art school,” says Corey Lightner, a creative advertising major and advisor to Herrera. “Don’t be afraid to come and check us out.”

Membership at BASE spans creative practices, from standup comedy and writing to singing and painting. But BASE also includes many members from outside VCUarts, who have joined the organization’s efforts to uplift Black art and artists on campus. Lightner is a video artist and dancer, who is contributing a summery and nostalgic music video based on former members’ music.

More than 30 artists will have work featured in the Friday showcase, which BASE began planning last spring. Artwork will be available for purchase, with BASE taking a small percentage of the sale for operational fees. Artists themselves will also be present, allowing visitors to learn more about how a piece was made or what inspired it.

“Often times, people see artwork as something that can’t be questioned—just something to look at,” says Lightner. “But you can ask an artist first-hand in a showcase, ‘How did you come up with this idea? How did you do this? Why did you do this?’”

BASE has other social events scheduled throughout the year, including art critiques and “Culture Talk,” an event where members can comfortably discuss current events in their lives or in the world.

“We have people come together to bring up things about what’s going on in the culture,” says Lightner. “They can talk about it in the open, without fear of judgement or anything like that. They can just get an answer and different insights from people.”

“The club is there to empower the students,” says Herrera, “and let them know that there’s an outlet” where they can discuss issues important to them.

Lightner encourages students who don’t identify as Black or African American to attend BASE events and chat with artists. Meeting people from other communities is beneficial for everyone.

“It gives a sense of understanding to a voice that you may not have heard from before,” says Lightner.

The first 200 tickets for the annual BASE Showcase are free; after that, prices at the door are $2.

Follow BASE on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to learn more.