Since time immemorial, history and culture have been passed down from generation to generation through visual and performing arts. In continuing this tradition, the Savannah Black Art Expo brings together visual and performing artists, vendors, food trucks and more to display history and culture related to Savannah and abroad.
“History originally started off being told with stories, with dance, with art. That's kind of how history got its first rankings in the world. I wanted to incorporate history within this as well because all of this is history in itself,” said Mikeshia McPhaul the event coordinator.
The Savannah Cultural Art Center opened in 2019, and this is the first time they are doing an event of this kind. On Saturday, Feb. 25 from 12 noon to 3 p.m., people of all ages can come experience various aspects of African-American culture.
“When discussing ideas for Black History Month, I let our team know that I wanted to create an event that would allow the space for local Black artists to display their art, sell their art to the community, but also network with other fellow local Black artists,” said McPhaul.
Whether it's Amir Toure honoring the ancestors through one of his historical acts and sharing an oral history lesson, Soul Q Original and Spitfire Poetry Group dropping some knowledge and rhymes behind the mic, or One Spirit Dance Academy leaving it all on stage in dance, there is something for everyone to enjoy. There will also be fashion designers, musicians and jewelry makers at the event.
“We have spoken word artists, a plethora of performing artists as well as visual artists within The Collage, like Zay Hutchins. We also have a comic book artist Alan Gray of Black God Comic who will have some artwork there, and jewelry makers like Taunya Benton. We literally have so much on display,” said McPhaul.
Though many of the groups at the expo host individual events throughout the year, McPhaul is thrilled to bring all of them together to connect and collaborate at this event.
“I know many of these artists have heard of each other or seen each other maybe once or twice, but I'm looking forward most to us building those connections with each other as local Black artists in Savannah. I’m looking forward to creating more events like this with each other,” she said.
The current gallery show, "...But some of us are Brave" will hold an artist roundtable in the Savannah Cultural Art Center Gallery.
In addition to the roundtable, performances and oral histories, there will also be a display about Ben Tucker, for whom the Cultural Arts Center theater is named. Throughout his 50-year career, the legendary jazz musician and community icon performed and recorded with various artists, including Art Blakey, Freddy Cole, Benny Goodman, Earl Fatha Hines, Shirley Horn, B.B. King, Herbie Mann, Marian McPartland, Mel Torme and Peggy Lee to name a few.
Completing this celebration of culture is food. On the scene will be Wing N It, Sweet Soirées by Nicole, and more. Perfect for the whole family to enjoy, the expo is free and open to everyone.
This event is on the schedule for the Savannah Black Heritage Festival, which has a few other events through the end of the month including:
Feb 24. at 7 p.m., “Dancing While Black” dance concert featuring the Savannah State University Dance Program at the Savannah Cultural Arts Center.
Feb 26. at 4 p.m., Gospel Explosion Concert featuring G. Allen Battle and Family Worship performance at Kingdom Life Christian Fellowship.
Feb 27. at 6:30 p.m., Step Afrika! performance at Georgia Southern University’s Fine Arts Building.
Feb 28. 6 pm. "I Shall Not be Moved: The Power of Our History" at he Beach Institute. Master Storyteller, Lillian Grant-Baptiste will portray how storytelling, music, and folklore have been used as tools of resistance, reform, and reconciliation throughout African American history.
For more information, visit savannahblackheritagefestival.org/.