Photo depicting Esther Ervin and Stephanie Morales seated side-by-side at the fourth annual ACES.

PHOTO ESSAY: Fourth Annual ACES Showcases the Work of Over 100 Artists of Color

by Susan Fried

The fourth annual Artists of Color Expo and Symposium (ACES) took place over the weekend of April 2–3, both virtually and in person at LANGSTON (formerly Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute). The BIPOC-led and community-curated event featured the work of over 100 BIPOC artists, live performances, film screenings, artist talks, as well as workshops and opportunity tables. 

Presented by Shunpike, an organization that provides programs, resources, and funding for the arts in Washington State, the free event celebrated BIPOC artists and facilitated networking and knowledge sharing among attendees and community groups. Representatives from organizations like The Vera Project, Artist Trust, 4Culture, Pratt Fine Arts Center, Totem Star, and more were available at opportunity tables to chat about upcoming grants and artist opportunities. Pro Bono ASL, a group of BIPOC Deaf and hearing professional interpreters provided ASL interpretation for both in-person and virtual programming. Some of the artists featured were multimedia artist Jia Jia; painter, filmmaker, and sculptor barry johnson; artist and storyteller Sindhu Surapaneni; social circus performance group Celestial Circus; rapper Huey the Artist; and many more.

Speakers included artist and youth mentor Scott Méxcal, who gave a lecture on decolonizing art history; artist Jasmine Iona Brown who talked about her work sculpting a bronze memorial statue of Billy Ray Shirley III in Tacoma; and musician Eduardo Mendonça who presented a workshop titled “The Art of Inclusion While Having Fun.” 

For a full listing of all artists and presenters, as well as highlights from previous years, visit Shunpike’s ACES official website.

A couple checks out some of the art at the ACES exhibit on Sunday, April 3, 2022, at LANGSTON. The fourth annual BIPOC-led, community-curated event featured both in person and virtual programming, including live performances, presentations, workshops, film screenings, artist talks, and artist opportunity tables. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Musician, underground educator, and creative Rell Be Free gave the keynote address at the fourth annual ACES on Sunday, April 3, 2022, at LANGSTON. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Huey the Artist performs during ACES. Over 100 artists of color were featured over the weekend of April 2–3. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Dozens of people attended the lecture “Decolonizing Art History: Contextualizing Colonialism Effects on Western Art History, the Creation of Museum and Abolitionist Aesthetics,” by Scott Méxcal. The lecture was presented both virtually and in person at LANGSTON. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Bharatanatyam dancer Sridevi Kanduri performed as part of the Unity in Diversity Dance Performance at ACES. (Photo: Susan Fried)
The Celestial Circus Showcase was one of dozens of performances featured during the fourth annual ACES at LANGSTON. (Photo: Susan Fried)
Danny Alvarado, a member of the Celestial Circus Showcase, performs on Sunday, April 3, 2022, at ACES. (Photo: Susan Fried)

Susan Fried is a 40-year veteran photographer. Her early career included weddings, portraits, and commercial work — plus, shes been The Skanner News’ Seattle photographer for 25 years. Her images have appeared in the University of Washingtons The Daily, The Seattle Globalist, Crosscut, and many more. She’s been an Emerald contributor since 2015. Follow her on Instagram @fried.susan.

📸 Featured Image: After being introduced by artist Esther Ervin (left), artist Stephanie Morales (right) gave a talk at ACES about how her Afro-Latina and Filipino background — as well as interest in travel, social justice, and multiculturalism — influences her work. (Photo: Susan Fried)

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