Black Artist Guild gets underway at WIU
Tatiana Ward, a senior in the Department of Art & Design at Western Illinois University, helped start the Black Artist Guild (BAG) to create a community where minority artists in the department feel welcome and connect with one another.
"When I started at WIU, I was often the only minority in class, and if there were others, it was difficult for us to interact. It was awkward," said Ward.
She worked with Yahzyah Crutcher, a senior ceramics student who was also interested in creating a minority organization in the department. It was Crutcher who proposed the name "Black Artist Guild."
Ward started her journey with art when she was in elementary school. Ward said she loved to draw cartoon characters and would sometimes draw them for friends that asked.
"I always knew I loved art when I was younger. My mum bought me a book on how to draw cartoon characters, and I used to take it to school," said Ward.
Ward comes from a family of artists. Ward said she watched her older sister draw and liked it, so she also picked up the skills. She is the first in her family to try taking up art professionally.
Ward currently runs two businesses. One is in graphics design, called "Design by Tati," and the second is in photography, called "Shots by Tati."
The Black Artist Guild plans to hold an annual member exhibition. The first one is scheduled for February 2023 with the theme "Tribute to Black History Month." Ward said the exhibition is open to organization members with artwork in line with the exhibition's theme.
BAG is open to all WIU students, regardless of the student's race and department. The organization welcomes non-artists as well. Ward stresses, "You don't have to be an artist to enjoy art," and encourages that "Anyone with interest in art should consider showing up."
Ward will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art - Graphic Design from WIU in a few weeks. However, she has already been admitted to graduate school at Western and plans to continue taking art classes this Spring 2023 semester.
She will also remain president of BAG.
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