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The BHCC’s “Basquiat’s & Snacks” Art Night: A Look Into Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Excellence By: Jadelyn Villa and Ashley Ruiz

On Thursday, February 15th, from 2-4 PM, the Black History & Culture Club hosted their Basquiat’s & Snacks Art Night event in the Paterson Room, continuing PCCC’s Black History Month celebration. This event brought students together to exercise their creativity and socialize in honor of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s artistic legacy.

Jean-Michel Basquiat was a bisexual Afro-Latino artist born in 1960 in Brooklyn. In early childhood, young Basquiat spent a lot of time drawing on paper from his father’s accounting job. His mother played a huge role in fueling his passion for the arts by frequently taking him to art museums, and this is where he drew inspiration from as he never received official education in the subject. After facing homelessness at 17 years old, he found his living selling his art on postcards and t-shirts while also indulging in graffiti art. He created a graffiti project under the name SAMO with his high school friend Al-Diaz, this being his first taste of recognition in the art world. SAMO and his later art was used to emphasize social concepts like politics, pop culture, and racism with the use of cleverly crafted and well-thought-out symbols. The provocative depth, satire, and self-awareness he fostered and portrayed in his art separated him from the rest.

With SAMO, Basquiat was able to wrestle and challenge the negative stereotypes of graffiti art. For these reasons, it captivated many people including artists such as Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf whom Basquiat would later befriend and collaborate with. He tragically passed away on August 12, 1988, at 27 years old to a heroin overdose. Though most of his masterpieces went unnoticed while he was alive, his legacy lives on in success. Basquiat is credited for being one of the first to unite the Black and Latino experiences with elite contemporary art, and to this day holds the title for the highest selling price for an art piece by a Black artist: “Untitled” for $110.5 million US dollars.

Jean-Michel Basquiat was a multi-faceted artist; not only was he a painter, but he was a musician, an actor, and a writer. He is essential when it comes to the conversation of Black art and Black creatives. Jean-Michel Basquiat is a legendary artist, he has made and continues to make such an enormous impact in the art world and has inspired so many artists and will continue to do so for years to come.

Students were invited to take inspiration from Basquiat’s impact and let their inner artist out. The Black History & Culture Club set up tables around the Paterson Room decorated with an array of paints, brushes, and canvases. R&B music featuring Black artists soundtracked the event and food was served throughout, including pizza, a Mardi

Gras cake, and plenty of snacks and refreshments to go around. The art night had a large turnout, with many students attending to celebrate Black creativity and success in the art world while also indulging in the craft themselves.

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