More than 400 artists from across the country submitted artwork for the 27th Carroll Harris Simms National Black Art Competition and Exhibition.
Of the hundreds of entries, 50 were chosen to be displayed inside the African American Museum of Dallas on the second floor in Gallery D.
“To be in this room in this gallery with a bunch of other amazing artists coming from all states of the country is insane. This gallery in itself is a beautiful collection of works,” said Assandre Jean-Baptiste, an artist from Cedar Hill who was chosen in the select few.
Jean-Baptiste, 29, is a graduate of the University of Texas Arlington and for the last several years has dedicated the majority of his time to his artwork.
Right when you walk into the exhibit, to the left, is his acrylic painting titled “Homecoming.”
“’Homecoming’ is really about the feeling of coming back home from a long journey, really celebrating the fact of an accomplished journey. Really learning to accept all the accomplishments and accolades and having that feeling of richness, where it feels like it’s a party behind you or it feels like everyone is celebrating your victories or whatnot,” described Jean-Baptiste.
“That’s really what I was trying to capture, this painting was really just an ode to myself of what I want to achieve, so I guess you can see it as a future picture to something that I look forward to,” he said.
He’s taking the steps to achieve success in the art world, as this is his first national competition.
“A lot of artists, it’s their first time showing in a museum setting, so that’s really exciting,” said Gerald Leavell, a curator at the African American Museum of Dallas.
He said the competition will conclude on Friday, Jan. 27, when the winners of each category, painting, sculpture, mixed media, drawing, printmaking and photography are announced. Each artist will receive $1,000 and then one artist is chosen from that group for Best in Show.
“The artist who wins best in show, their artwork is going to become part of the museum’s permanent collection. The exhibition started in 1976 really as a way to showcase artwork by Black artists and also build a solid contemporary art collection here at the museum,” explained Leavell.
The Best in Show artist will also have the opportunity to have a solo exhibition at the museum.
Jean-Baptiste remains hopeful but says regardless of the outcome, he’s grateful to have made it this far.
“‘It’s opened a door very much so, I’d say the possibilities are endless,” said Jean-Baptiste. “It’s just cool to think, ‘OK, this is really just a springboard or a snowball and keeps rolling’ and I’m excited to be on this journey.”
The mixer for the announcement of the winners will be Friday, Jan. 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the African American Museum of Dallas at Fair Park. The event is free and the exhibit will remain open through March.
Also at the museum, is a separate exhibit highlighting the history and stories of Black cowboys from the turn of the century.
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