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The Center for Black Excellence & Culture to host inaugural Black Arts Expo, a celebration of Black artists and performers 


The Center for Black Excellence and Culture will host its first-ever Black Arts Expo on Saturday, Dec. 2, noon-5 p.m., at Fountain of Life Church on Madison’s South Side. The event, a celebration of Black artists and performers, will kick off visual arts programming before The Center becomes a physical reality. 

The Center for Black Excellence and Culture is a Black-inspired, Black-designed and Black-led project that will celebrate Black culture. Scheduled to break ground in the spring of 2024, the Center is a community-wide effort to “bring together a collective Black brilliance to affirm, inspire and advance the Black community in Madison and beyond,” according to its mission.

Saturday’s Black Arts Expo is free to attend, and open to everyone, and it’s a unique opportunity to see, buy, and appreciate art, learn creative skills, support Black artists, and be inspired for future creative expression.

Annik Dupaty

“Incredibly talented people are sometimes hesitant to call themselves an artist,” Annik Dupaty, the visual arts programming coordinator for The Center for Black Excellence and Culture, tells Madison365. Dupaty went on to explain that it is important to uphold spaces that embrace various creativities and that the Black Arts Expo is a “sneak peek” into the culture and history of Black art expression that The Center wants to uplift in Madison.

The Center for Black Excellence and Culture is an organization focused on addressing the decades-long absence of cultural space to celebrate and advance Dane County’s Black community.  The Center is dedicated to being a physical place where Dane County’s Black residents and others throughout the community can gather to plan for and celebrate current and future growth and advancement. 

In addition to some 20 exhibiting artists and vendors, the Black Art Expo will offer a range of lively experiences combining live art-making demos, music, poetry, and opportunities to buy books and specialty, small-batch, and handmade items from Black business owners. The list of participating artists, authors, poets, speakers, and performers includes quilt makers, jewelry and clothes makers, illustrators, live art demos, spoken-word performances, printmaking and mixed media amongst other culturally Black customs and practices.

Art-making demos will include painting, printmaking and pottery. Families can take part in free hands-on arts and crafts projects in a kids’ area. When asked what she was looking forward to most about putting this event together, Dupaty shared with Madison365 that this event is unique in that it is “intentionally intergenerational.”

“We really want to celebrate accomplished artists and encourage and inspire the next generation of artists … and that can be artists that are in their 30s, artists in college, or artists that are kindergarteners,” Dupaty says, adding that the organizers of this event have planned for an extensive list of ways for everyone to immerse themselves in Black culture and art. 

Della Wells, one of the featured panelists, for the Black Arts Expo

“Building community between artists” is what Dupay is most excited about, and she expresses that “not all working Black artists know each other in this area, and this is an opportunity to build that understanding of a Black artist community.” 

Dupaty highlighted many of the performers, panelists, and demo artists as things to look forward to at the event. As a special highlight, she mentioned her daughter, Naiya Dupaty, as an example of the way building community can allow people to step out of their comfort zone when presented with an opportunity to share their artistry. Frisson, an emerging Madison-based band blending R&B, jazz, and funk, is fronted by singer Naiya Dupaty, and backed by Trayvon Leal (guitar, bass), Scott Williams (drums), and Reece Dowd (guitar, bass). The Center is looking forward to the involvement of young people and artists who will then inspire the next generation of future artists.

For a complete list of participating artists and a schedule for the Black Arts Expo, visit the event page here.