This Year’s UPRISING Art Exhibit Explores “Self-Perception” – St. Olaf College

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“UPRISING V: Perception of Self” is hosted by (left to right) Ramos Lenyatsa ’23, Lillian Ingabire ’22 and Karabo Ramosamo ’22. Photo by Anna Erickson ’23

When the curators of the fifth annual UPRISING art exhibition began reviewing submissions for this year’s exhibition, they quickly noticed a theme.

Artists from different disciplines and from different backgrounds all came back to a sense of duality to describe their work.

“People are very aware of the looks they get from others and it has a big effect on them. We wanted to give artists as well as audiences the space to dwell on the power of perception and how which it can influence people in so many ways,” says curator Lillian Ingabire ’22. “Perception has the power to drive people to harm, and it can also bring them back to themselves and transform them for the better. In the exhibition, the artists explore the topics of body image, inner identity, feeling of duality as a black person in America, challenge and also personal inspiration. Some feel lost and confused, some struggle as they question their identity and sense of belonging.

“UPRISING V: Perception of Self” is open in the Groot Gallery of the Center for Art and Dance until March 6. Information about gallery hours and COVID-19 policies are available on the Visitors webpage. The exhibition also has an interactive online publication available for exploration.

In the exhibition, the artists explore the topics of body image, inner identity, feeling of duality as a black person in America, challenge and also personal inspiration. Some feel lost and confused, others struggle as they question their identity and sense of belonging.Curator Lillian Ingabire ’22

UPRISING is an annual exhibit that chronicles Black experiences and celebrates Black history, culture and identity through the visual and performing arts. Shaquille Brown ’19 founded the series of exhibits in response to anti-racism protests on St. Olaf’s campus in 2017. This student-curated exhibit, which is held each February to coincide with Women’s History Month Blacks, creates space for marginalized black voices on campus and fosters community interactions among students, faculty, and staff.

This year’s show was hosted by Lillian Ingabire ’22, Karabo Ramosamo ’22 and Ramos Lenyatsa ’23. It was planned and organized by members of the student organization UPRISING and the staff of the Flaten Art Museum, with support from the Department of Art and Art History.

The artwork in 'UPRISING V: Perception of Self' includes a piece by Karabo Ramosamo (foreground) titled
The artwork for ‘UPRISING V: Perception of Self’ features a piece by Karabo Ramosamo ’22 (foreground) titled ‘Lost in a concrete jungle’. Photo of Samuel Gwin ’25

“In ‘Perception of Self’ we imagine ‘self’ as the artist and also ‘self’ as you, the audience. The way you experience this exhibition is in your image. How do you see yourself through the artwork? How does the artwork look at you? said Ingabiré. “Differences in perception should never be the source of conflict or be used to justify it, but they should be a way to celebrate diversity. A person is a multi-faceted being of good intentions and seeing one in this light could lead to better understanding across races, ethnicities, religions, genders, sexual orientations, etc. Wouldn’t a connection of these “I’s” make the world a better place? a place to live, together? »

In ‘Perception of Self’ we imagine the ‘me’ as the artist and also the ‘me’ as you, the audience. The way you experience this exhibition is in your image. How do you see yourself through the artwork? How does the artwork look at you?Curator Lillian Ingabire ’22

“Black Royal”, an oil on canvas by Nakunda Mshana ’22, is exhibited in “UPRISING V.” Photo of Samuel Gwin ’25

The exhibition presents a wide range of works that highlight the different perspectives of the participating artists. “Grito Do Meu Coração Cacheado” by Leila Rocha Fisher ’23 tells the story of feeling unrecognizable by the perception of others. Theo Mattson ’22’s “Own Worst Enemy” highlights the crux of an old adage that goes, “When there is no enemy within, the enemy without cannot make of bad.” Ruhama Solomon ’24’s poetry and audio pieces titled “Revival/Revival reloaded” immerse audiences in an interactive experience that prompts reflection on the people we love and the strength they provide to persevere through difficult times.

Curators note that these pieces are just a few that make the collection something the entire campus community should check out.

“This exhibit is about how black people feel lost and continue to struggle with that feeling on the St. Olaf College campus and in this America,” Ingabire says. “We have the right to feel at home. We have the right to feel at peace. This is our uprising!

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