Written by Mary McCue Bell
Black Alchemy has been an annual staple to Relevant Youth for the past four years; it is an event to promote black artists and creatives in the Columbia community by giving them a platform for their art. Run by Gabriella Salinas, the goal for this year is to have the audience feel immersed with the creators through an in-person venue with live performances, as well as question and answer segments with each artist.
The event is to lift up black creatives as well as enhance appreciation for the arts. Salinas designed the event as a space of expression for themselves, their art and their goals.
“Black alchemy, to me, is really just a celebration,” Salinas states. “It's a celebration of self. It's a celebration of history. It's a celebration of your talents. I really just love seeing the joy and the smiles that it brings every year to either the people that are in it or the people that are looking at it.”
A new creative joining Black Alchemy this year is Kelsi Southard. Southard is a senior at the University of Missouri who chose graphic design for her showcase.
“[Graphic design] is a creative outlet for me where I can help a brand send a visual message in their advertising, while also creating art that I’m proud of,” Southard stated. “Graphic design allows me to work with just enough direction so that I don’t get lost in all the possibilities and [it gives me] just enough creative freedom so that I can enjoy the process.”
Southard chose 3 different advertisement series to showcase this year which were all made for Frank Corridori’s Creative Portfolio and Strategic Design and Visuals II classes: Twix, Vespa, and Blue Microphones. She sought to share her talent as well as design them as if they were real advertisements that would represent those brands.
“I aimed to execute designs that would really grab the attention of the viewer in hopes that the ‘wow’ factor would translate to how the consumer feels about the brand,” Southard reflected. “My goals for this showcase are to show off my best work and learn something from the other talented black creatives that will be there.”
Along with presenting her own artwork for Black Alchemy, Southard is also volunteering at the venue.
“I’m volunteering as well as showcasing because Black Alchemy is such a unique and exciting opportunity for black creatives, and I wanted to be a part of making it as successful as possible,'' Southard said. “Black Alchemy is a step in the right direction towards presenting opportunities for black creatives, and I’m super grateful for the people that have put in the work to make it happen.”
Another creative that will be in the spotlight during Black Alchemy is Kaitlyn Hill who is showcasing two acrylic paintings. Hill made the pieces as a means of exploring other styles to find the fun in painting again.
“These works are extremely emotional to me, and they are about how I ground myself when experiencing anxiety,” Hill explains. “Making art reconnects me to my own spirit, and ultimately these pieces are important to me because they represent me coming back to myself through my art practice. My goals with this showcase are to make at least one person feel something when they look at my work, whatever that feeling may be.”