Courtesy of the Neo Collective

On Feb. 19, the Neo Collective — a space for Black visual artists, musicians and writers to share their art — hosted its virtual showcase, “Re;memory: Framing the Imaginary,” to elevate the inspirations and imaginations of Black artists in light of Black History Month.

The showcase hosted Black creators from both Yale and New Haven. Creators presented pieces of artwork in response to prompts set by the collective. These creators were challenged to choose a subject that inspired their imagination and “pushed the boundaries of Black expression.”

“Our show revolved around Black memory and imagination, so most if not all of the work paid homage to or imagined a new relationship with personal histories, other artists and political movements,” Sonnet Carter ’23, member of the collective, said. “I think this is the essence of Black History Month. It is about looking backwards and looking forward in our Blackness.”

At the event, members of the collective attempted to foster a collaborative atmosphere and sense of community. Cassidy Arrington ’23, who hosted the showcase and performed in it, described it as “freeing” to have a space where everyone felt comfortable. For instance, Kadiatou Keita ‘22 said she enjoyed reading her prose, as she knew her vulnerability was accepted by event attendees.

“I remember looking at everyone else’s pieces for the show and just being in awe of how amazing they were, making me even more nervous to present my work alongside theirs,” Carter told the News. “However, I am happy that I put my piece out there and I was glad that people had so many questions and thoughts about my work.”

Nyeda Sam ’22, who founded the collective, was overwhelmed with pride and gratitude at the results of their labor and audience participation. “It felt like we made a beautiful community,” Sam added.

Members of the collective had been gearing towards this showcase since late last year. Each member took on a different role to advertise and organize the show. While Carter and Tobi Makinde ’23 advertised the show and coordinated the collective’s daily activities, Arrington worked on outreach and handled general meetings, which included giving artists feedback. Keita, along with other members, was responsible for curating the showcase’s theme.

Keita, Sam and Carter were responsible for the collective’s image, posters and logos throughout the semester, while Sam also pulled “the heavy guns” by opening the collective’s website and uploading all the creator’s projects, the hard work for the showcase, Keita said.

Besides their “Re;memory: Framing the Imaginary” showcase, the collective will host creative sessions in the future. They also plan to continue their “Black Artists” series on Instagram, where they encourage members of the collective to praise artists that have influenced their work.

More of the collective’s work can be seen on their website.

Bryan Ventura | bryan.ventura@yale.edu