This year, and the year before that, has been red marked by
numerous tragedies that have led to the unjust deaths of many
Americans inside their own country and, usually, at the safety
of their own neighborhoods. Sometimes, when injustice and
tragedy strikes a particular community or targets a particular
race and ethnicity, it can become quite difficult or dangerous
for people to be proud of their skin color and/or their heritage.
Sometimes, it can take a lot out of you to simply exist, when
the authorities and the establishment of your society make it
clear through their actions that your particular life matters
less than the lives of the privileged class.
In this particular case, we are referring to the numerous
tragedies and injustices suffered by the Black-American
communities across the United States. Countless times, many
Black-Americans, adults and children, have been unjustly
murdered simply for being who they are. And countless times,
their unjust murderers, usually the authority figures of the
community, have not had to answer for their crimes.
It is difficult, and sometimes dangerous, to be a proud
Black-American in the United States. But this has not stopped
the Black Community from rallying together and showing
their pride everyday. This has not stopped Black Community
leaders in leading chants on the streets that their people’s lives
matter. This has not stopped Black Parents in instilling hope
in their children’s hearts that there is a better future where
all people will be treated equally. This has not stopped Black
Teachers in equipping their students with the wisdom on how
to achieve that better future. Finally, this has not stopped Black
Artists around the United States from showing, through their
art, pride in their heritage and pride in the amazing things
their community is capable of.
Angelique Scott, is one such artist who expresses her pride
regularly and skillfully. Aside from showing her pride through
her physical being, words, actions and the organizations she
is a part of, Ms. Scott’s enjoys expressing her pride through
her art. Her favored medium of artistic expression is physical
sculptures, particularly clay and ceramics. Ms. Scott is
currently a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University and
plans on graduating in the Spring of 2018. Her field of study is
Art Education and Craft/Material Studies with a concentration
in clay and a minor in Art History. Angelique Scott is Amendment’s Featured Artist of the
Fall 2016 semester and it was an honor to interview her for our
Amendment: What do you think about VCU? Is this a good place to be an art student?
Angelique Scott: I have grown to love VCU. I believe that
with any public or private arts college, you pay for connections
and opportunities, and VCU has a lot of them. Apart from
the lack of diversity in the arts, VCU is a great place to be an
art student. You are challenged by your peers and by your
professors to create work that not only fits the prompt, but that
is meaningful to you. The teachers care about their students,
and the Dean’s office listens to students concerns, especially
mine in regards to diversity. Once I noticed how I was the
only black student or student of color in most my art classes, I
decided not to stick with the status quo or the “norm.”
Aside from being an art student at VCU, what other groups and activities are you a part of around VCU?
I am a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated,
one of the 9 historically black sororities in the National Pan-
Hellenic Council. We hold various events both educating
and involving the VCU and Richmond Community. I am also
the Co-Founder and President of B.A.S.E (Black Art Student
Empowerment) at VCU. A cultural organization that was
founded as a direct response to the lack of diversity within the
School of the Arts. One of our biggest and most anticipated
events is the Fall Showcase we hold every fall semester. This
year’s showcase is themed “B(L)ack By Popular Demand.” I
was also involved with the NAACP at VCU for Two years and
was crowned Miss NAACP for the 2014-2015 academic year.
I was the speaker for the Presidential Forum on Diversity in
Fall 2015 and a student organizer with Black VCU Speaks to
discuss concerns from students of color to the President’s
Office. I recently graduated from the VCU Aspire, 2-year
service learning program.
What issues going on around the country, or in the world, right now do you feel strongly about?
Issues in Syria, Black Lives Matter, the Dakota Access
Pipeline, and the precarious state of political emergency in
the U.S. are topics that I am primarily concerned about now.
A lot is happening in our country and around the world and
I feel that it is important to keep up with current events and
educate others about what it happening whether through art
or another medium.
What inspired you to make the art pieces you submitted to Amendment?
I am inspired by my background, my heritage, and the world
I occupy. Barbados was created as a way for me to pay tribute
to my Caribbean roots and discuss the Trans-Atlantic Slave
Trade. The Proper Content was my response to black bodies
being held as a commodity and the cultural appropriation of
black culture throughout time. With Black Hair Pride, I am
embracing my natural hair, therefore embracing a primitive
part of myself and my culture that I have been trained to
despise. In highschool I was forced to use a relaxer to keep
my hair straightened and soon after I graduated I realized
that I hated my hair straight and using strong chemicals to
maintain something I no longer liked. Black Hair Pride is a
way of celebrating the Afro-Centric woman in a colorful and
enticing way. I looked to Aaron Douglas and his paintings for
rhythm and movement. Don’t Touch My Hair is one of my
earlier works. I tried to remember how I felt when people
(mostly not of color) would automatically touch my hair as if
it weren’t an extended part of my body; they were not invited
nor did they ask but always seemed to exert the privilege of
doing so. I was inspired by the different hair styles I have
worn throughout my life. From braided pigtails when I was
a little girl, to faux locs, to an Afro; no matter the hairstyle it
still managed to prompt others to touch me uninvited. Broken
HIStories was created to blend both the present day American
flag with the Battle flag of the Confederacy and shatter them simultaneously. Both flags have complex HIStories that often
do not include the prominence of the African-American
contributions to the war, or the country. Her Story was created
to symbolize the freedom and peace (symbolized through
the cowrie shells) the black woman in America seldom
experience. From being constrained in the workplace to being
stigmatized for their body image in a way that it is demeaning
and overly-sexualized, money and gold are held above all else.
The black woman is considered the world’s most disrespected
and unprotected race and gender, so I choose to have gold in
the background. Her Story is was inspired by not only black
women, but Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me and
trying to live free within your own body.
Out of all the art pieces you submitted, did you have a particular favorite?
The Proper Content and Black Hair Pride are equally
my favorite works of art. Black Hair Pride was the first piece
I assembled of that size and I was so thrilled to see the
piece come to life. The Proper Content symbolizes so much
information and I love everything that the piece fights for.
A good number of your art pieces discuss hair, particularly African-American hair. Why is that an important issue for you?
Hair is very important to me for many reasons. One being,
it is a direct connection of DNA and history, and holds cultural
and social traditions. Hair is also a statement. The world
interprets many things about a person simply by their hairstyle.
Black hair specifically is something that I incorporate into
my work often because it is something I value and has direct
connections to the lineage and history of African-Americans.
Why did you decide to present the issues that are important to you through sculptures and physical three dimensional art?
I use my artwork as a way for people to engage in a dialogue
about a sensitive, difficult or controversial topic. Being the
only black person, and black woman in most of my art classes,
not many people create artwork about race in the same way
that my work demands the attention of the audience.
Have you had any experience with discrimination, bigotry and/or racism?
Overtly, no. I have never had any be directly racist towards
me but I have experienced countless micro-aggression,
and experienced subtle or subconscious racism. I have
experienced this in school, work, the community, and I have
even internalized stereotypes that I must unlearn. I must
relearn a lot of what has been told to me throughout life.
With all of the issues about race surround America right now, do you have hope that racism can still be overcome?
Racism is derived out of ignorance, and ignorance stems
from a lack of education. Until the people are educated with
honesty and nothing is withheld, there will always be racism.
This country was built on racism and genocide, until we can
have open conversations in all areas and aspects about the war
against black bodies, we can never have freedom from political
and social constructs such as racism.
What can students do to fight against discrimination, bigotry and racism?
I believe that cultural or black organizations on campus such
at BASE, BSU or NAACP, or even the Office of Multicultural
Student Affairs are a great place to start to learn about people,
learn about the problems people face, and discuss them.
Do you have any other art pieces or projects that you are currently working on that discusses or presents a topical issue?
Yes, I am currently working on a few pieces. One is a
figurine of Lady Justice that talks about the biased judicial
system in America. Another is a pop-color hair piece based off
of 90s fashion, a statuette dedicated to my father focusing on
black men and black fathers, and other fibers based artwork
that will also talk about the 13th amendment and those who
fought for/and against it. Most, if not all of my work centers
around social or political topics.