Kayla Jones-White, The Black Bear – Flameless candles adorned the dimly lighted room, filled with the hums of smooth R&B adding to the ambiance and creating the perfect atmosphere for artistic expression.
Poets, vocalists, and visual artists gathered on Feb. 17 at the Missouri State University Plaster Student Union Ballroom.
Despite their varying forms of art, performers shared one commonality: the need to contribute to the cultivation of art, self-expression and love.
Untamed Tongues Poetry Collective collaborated with the Office of Multicultural Programs for their semi-annual art exposition. Just two years ago, senior communication major and founder of Untamed Tongues Taylor Vinson said she felt the campus was lacking creative outlets.
Vinson said that she “knows how important (spoken word poetry) is to the Black community”, as she explained why she established Untamed Tongues in 2014.
Though minorities on campus frequented social events, they did not have a designated space or time to express themselves through a given medium.
Months later, her vision became a reality as the organization had its first Art Expo.
Their “Night of Expression” event consisted of more than 10 performers and an audience of over 60 students, faculty and staff, and family. Performances ranged from live art to controversial pieces about social injustice.
Students enjoying refreshments at Untamed Tongue’s “A Night of Expression”
Alisha Benefield, Untamed Tongues poet, performed at A Night of Expression. Her original piece titled “Know Your Worth” targeted the inequalities between men and women during daily interactions. After her poem, the room was filled with snaps, the applause of the poetic.
Benefield reflected on the importance of events that focus on art.
“We are allowed to express what is going on in the community today,” Benefield said. “It’s a way to get away from electronics and television and express yourself and meet new people”.
After Benefield’s spoken word, the sounds of 90’s R&B artist Donell Jones crept through the room. Seamlessly, the next performer took the stage: a guitarist singing an original piece titled “Humanity”.
As he sang, murmuring amongst members of the audience ceased. Everyone was attentive to the performer, his lyrics and more importantly his message.
Untamed Tongues aims to provide students with a safe and appropriate outlet for not only their art but their emotions as well. Considering the prevalence of inequality and racial tension, Untamed Tongues considers expression through art an effective means of promoting productive and necessary conversation.