Fourth Annual Starlight Art Night

On Saturday, February 29, The Table partnered with Events to host the fourth annual Starlight Art Night on the theme of African-American fashion through the decades.

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On Saturday, February 29, The Table partnered with Events to host the fourth annual Starlight Art Night hosted in the Student Union. In previous years, this open-mic event has explored themes such as the Harlem Renaissance and Black theater. This year, the night centered around the influences of African-American fashion, specifically from the 1970s to 2010s. As per the description for the night, for African Americans, “fashion became an outlet for self-expression . . . confidence became sewn into every seam.”

The walls of the Student Union were covered with a lookbook of influential Black Americans including Kobe Bryant, Misty Copeland, Malcolm X, and Alice Walker. The night’s emcees were alumni Onassis Puente (PPE ’19) and Trivette Knowles (PPE ’19).

Selecting audience names at random, Knowles and Puente awarded prizes throughout the evening, including Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michael Jackson’s best selling vinyl album Thriller.

The first act in the lineup was a dance performance by L.I.V.E Dance Crew from Saint John’s University. Njeri McPherson (MCA ’20) read excerpts from Supreme Models: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Fashion by Marcellas Reynolds. Njeri read the stories of two models from the 90’s—Marcellas Reynolds (the author) and Veronica Webb. For them, the world of fashion offered hope and the chance to influence the next generation of Black models to establish their voices. Jet Ragas (PPE ’23) performed Stevie Wonder’s beloved song, “Isn’t She Lovely,” accompanied by Moses Kazanjian (BUS ’23) on the guitar.

Interwoven between the performances, Jordan Pitts (BUS ’21) and Brianna Jacobs (JCS ’23) modeled fashion looks through the decades styled by Sydney Watson (MCA ’20).

Juliette Kheyfets (MCA ’22) sang “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys on her guitar. Following this, Keanna Irving (MCA ’20) performed a dance sequence, representing the evolution of dance style and attitude. Then Brianna Jacobs won the night with a bold spoken word performance:

Rosa Parks said no when she sat on that bus. That’s why whenever I sit on one I try and sit at the front. “The way to right wrongs is to put the light of truth on them.” Ivy Wells said that—straight facts—an investigative journalist. Her friends were lynched, ropes around their neck, cutting off the blood circulation. She didn’t cower in fear. She wrote the story down, no doubt, and tears showed the world how hatred killed those young men. Isabella Baumfree escapes to be free and became Sojourner Truth, an example for the youth to not stay down in captivity. When they sat in diner chairs, chairs just for the whites, sat there the whole night waiting to be served, enduring the taunts, the jeers, the burning coffee splashed on their ears, spit and slurs flying in the air, mustard in their hair, shaking with fear, sitting firmly with strength….But I don’t look at it in a way where I am bitter and full of hate. No, my ancestors went through too much for that. So we recognize our past and we rise from the ash, pressing forward toward the light through Jesus Christ to pave the way of love. It won’t be perfect of course. But like we say in my land of wood and water: out of many, we are one. One love, brethren, one love.

The night closed with Michel’le’s “Something in My Heart” sung by Isura Adedokun (PPE ’20), with Moses Kazanjian again accompanying on the guitar. With a packed Student Union this year, the night was filled with enthusiasm. After the performances, students stayed to mingle and dance to the music.

Photo courtesy of Keanna Irving.

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