Black women on Albion College’s campus, both students and alumni, have been doing phenomenal work to create a more inclusive space for marginalized students.
From Ida B. Wells to Angela Davis to Laverne Cox, Black women have historically been on the front lines as trail blazers for change while simultaneously being one of the most disrespected, unprotected and neglected women in this country and around the world. Despite being constantly struck down by society, Black women continually rise up.
Black women on Albion’s campus are no different. Despite all the trials and tribulations they have to face on an everyday basis, Black women at Albion continue to take charge in leadership roles and make campus a place for the better. And they deserve their credit.
The Pleiad’s “Black Women Winning” series aims to highlight Black women on campus and all they have achieved and continue to achieve.
Chalara Sutton, a senior from Cleveland, Ohio, is a pro-Black artist who strives to tell positive stories about Blackness through her paintings.
From drawings to paintings, Sutton has been an artist since she was young. She said she has always loved art, and she started to do more with her art when she got to college.
“I am creating Black imagery about women empowerment, Black motherhood, Black beauty,” said Sutton. “I’m just creating artwork about Black people basically and really bringing light to Black beauty.”
Sutton takes different aspects of Blackness and makes them her focal point to emphasize uniqueness and importance. She does this mainly through collaging.
“I focus on hair textures, focus on skin color, focus on basically features that are quiet in Black people’s worlds,” said Sutton.
As a Black woman, Sutton has things she can use from her personal story to guide her hand in creating her art.
“Really what inspired me is my own experience,” said Sutton. “I was born in a white neighborhood. I went to a white school. And ever since then, I’ve always felt out of place because I was always the Black girl in school. And then, when I moved to a predominantly Black school, I was always the ‘white girl who was the Black girl.’”
She said because of her conflicting background, she wanted to channel that into her artwork.
“This is very important to me because I want Black women, especially my age and younger, to know how important it is for Black people to be a representation for young Black people,” said Sutton. “So, I want young Black people to look at this and be like, ‘Oh, she talking about some real shit here, and I want to be like that. I want to look up to that.’”
Sutton doesn’t want her artwork to fall short by only reaching those on campus. She wants it to go beyond.
“I want other races to look at this and want to respect Black people,” said Sutton. “Out of all of this I want people to respect each other. Black lives matter. They will always matter until the end.”
Sutton has been able to take her art work and turn it into a FURSCA experience. Sutton worked on her FURSCA project over the summer and continues to work on her pieces now.
“I’m still working on things from FURSCA. I’m still talking about social issues as in police brutality. I’m also talking about beauty standards,” said Sutton.
Before FURSCA, Sutton had no idea what she would research. Then, she realized she wanted to research Black women’s experiences and social issues. She used this research to help talk about her artwork with others.
“During FURSCA, it actually helped with speaking about my personal life as well. Before, I didn’t really like to talk about how I was friends with white people when I was younger,” said Sutton. “But FURSCA really helped me to step out of my comfort zone and talk about those types of things.”
Now that Sutton is able to tell her truth more openly, she wants to open up the conversation to other Black people who have similar background stories.
“Obviously, a lot of people are going through the same problems as I have and the same struggles as I have,” said Sutton. “And that type of story is kind of relatable for other people to be inspired by.”
With her confidence in her story, Sutton has a message to give to Black people and Black women specifically.
“Just do it. I feel like Black women should be confident in their actions and especially be a representation of what Black people and Black women should be instead of a white society telling us what we should be,” said Sutton. “So, I feel like Black people should be confident in their dreams and their aspirations and just do that shit.”