For the second year in a row, the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) is hosting an art contest in honor of Black History Month. The PTSA established the contest as a way to recognize the importance of Black History Month, acknowledge the struggles Black people face, and offer students an opportunity to celebrate Black History Month through an abundance of art styles.
According to Berkeley High School (BHS) student and PTSA student president Anaya Loving, last year, the PTSA brought on a student team to their board in order to have more student involvement and representation. She said the students created the contest to commemorate Black History Month and remember important people and events in Black history. The student section of the PTSA continues to lead the art contest today.
“As someone who identifies as a person of color … it is important we celebrate these times,” Loving said. “To other people who identify as a person of color, the contest is an outlet in which they can share their stories.”
As one of the heads of the PTSA, Loving helps to organize the contest, and said it is as much about the students’ art as it is about the recognition of Black History Month.
Loving said the contest “[gives] voices to people who don’t normally get appreciated as often.”
Acknowledging the history of Black people, particularly in the United States, is important to Loving. She said that the short window of time in which we honor Black History Month means it takes more effort to create an impact, and is part of the reason the contest was created.
“[It] gets students that may not be mindful of Black art, history, people, etc. to pay attention,” said Konani Chinn, last year’s winner for photography and digital art. “The contest highlights a topic that is underrepresented in the media.”
Chinn also said the contest aims to illustrate hardships throughout Black history, and it is “a way to showcase Black art and Black artists.” According to Chinn, in a time where so much is happening in our world, it is essential to recognize this topic that doesn’t get as much media attention.
Shayla Avery, last year’s winner for the poetry section and a BHS graduate from the class of 2021, said the contest shows Black beauty as well as Black joy.
“The contest is very important because it sheds light on Black excellence and Black art, and the beauty of it,” Avery said.
Her piece illustrated the struggles Black people face and how they have learned to embrace their culture and heritage despite the racism aimed at them because of their complexion.
There are a variety of different categories in which students can submit their work, including photography and digital art, visual art, poetry, music, and performance art. This includes songs, stories, music videos, and sculptures. Students can submit one piece of work per category and win prizes for first, second, and third place rankings. Students can only win one prize despite multiple submissions. Prizes include $100, $50, and $25 for first, second, and third place respectively.
The contest encourages all BHS students to submit, not just those who are Black. The submission link as well as the full list of rules can be found on the PTSA Instagram, @ptsa.bhs, and submissions are open until February 14 at 9 PM.