Show Your Colors

The Artists Empowerment Collective is hosting the 3rd Annual Show Your Colors: Artists Showcase, an exhibition that celebrates and amplifies visual and performing artists of color from Springfield and surrounding areas. The exhibition will take place at the Creamery Arts Center with an opening reception on Friday, March 3rd. The reception will include a viewing of the art from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. followed by a musical performance from Unessential Jane from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. For more information contact the Artists Empowerment Collective at (417) 862-2787 or at

2023 Artists

Ashley Laren

"I have always been inspired to create, but it has been since 2020 that I have really leaned into incorporating my love of nature into my artwork. Being able to experience the world around us and relive my journeys while I paint is such a life-giving experience. I feel fulfilled in my art practice when I am able to have conversations with others about their experiences in nature in relation to the subjects I paint."

Bishop Cortezz

"Springfield-based artist Bishop Cortezz originally began making art as a ceramicist, though he has since been painting vigorously with a personal combined media style since 2018. 

The use of creative paint experimentation, deep collage layering, and frequent incorporation of waste materials define this style. 

Having a longer history with ceramics arts has led Bishop’s paintings to have a technical focus on texture, surface, and decoration. The abstraction of the natural world and human history act as the principal content of Bishop’s paintings. 

Inspired by artists Jean Dubuffet, Cy Twombly, George Stefanescu, and Ion Țuculescu, referencing art history is also a key theme of Bishop’s art."

Cory Naden 

                                                             Coming Soon!

Freda Jo

"Freda Jo is a force of harmony and balance through artistic expression. She develops community and cultural healing through art, beauty, and storytelling to fight oppression, advocate for the marginalized, and celebrate independent outcasts."

Joy Okokon

Joy Okokon is a Nigerian-born artist currently living and working in Springfield, MO. As a ceramist and mix media artist, she has a deep appreciation for the cultural and social significance of hair braiding among women, a tradition that brings family and friends together and symbolizes power, beauty, and identity. Okokon’s interest in hair-making began at a young age as a skill passed down through generations in her family. As she developed her craft, she began to see braiding as much more than just a skill. It became a means of exploring the rich history and roots of Nigerian female hair.
Okokon holds a BA in Industrial Arts (Ceramics) from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, an MA in Art from Eastern Illinois University, and is currently a candidate for an MFA in Visual Studies at Missouri State University. Her work has been exhibited in numerous group exhibitions, including the juried exhibition at Blue Line Art in Roseville, CA, and the Mo-Ky Mud 2: A Collaborative Exhibition of Contemporary Ceramics at the Corolla Arts Exhibition Center in Springfield, MO. In 2023, Okokon has received numerous awards for her work, including the Arrowmount + Windgate Fellowship in Gatlinburg, TN, and the Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award. She has also served as a gallery assistant at the Brick City Gallery at Missouri State University and the Carolla Art Exhibition Center. Her work has been published in the Voyage Ohio magazine. In addition to her artistic pursuits, Okokon is a member of the International Sculpture Center in New Jersey and the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts. Through her work, she continues to explore the cultural and social significance of hair braiding among women and its connection to power, beauty, and identity.


Justin Loudermill

Justin Loudermill is an African American artist raised in Springfield, MO. His preferred style is Afro-futurism and comes from his love of history, street graffiti, and vibrant colors. "The goal of my art is to inspire conversations about culture and diversity and encourage greatness from the royal imagery of my roots and love for ancient civilizations that came before."

Justin is a second-generation artist and son of Billy (County) Loudermill. "His murals, caricatures, and printing styles of motorcycle, western, and Funk Music culture left a lasting impression of what art means to me."

Justin came to Springfield at the age of six from Jefferson City, MO. He grew up in the Rountree area until a teen. In his teenage years, he moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota to live for almost four years. 

"The richness in African communities and the world culture available in the city forever shaped the story I tell in art. I do private and commercial commissions as well as murals, flowerpots, apparel, 3d installations, and furniture. 

Rebekah Polly

"Rebekah Polly is an artist and educator from Southwest Missouri. Polly holds a BS degree in K-12 Art Education and an MA in Studio Art and Theory. Throughout her career, Polly has worked with thousands of people in a variety of art projects and programs. As an artist, she works as a painter and ceramic artist to explore concepts from social justice, environmental issues and nature."

Rex Ybañez

Rex Ybañez is a Filipino American copywriter, editor, and poet from the Midwest. A former Pushcart Prize nominee, 2020 Moon City Press Poetry Award finalist, and 2021 Steel Toe Books Poetry Contest finalist (longlist), he has judged and worked as a master of ceremonies for regional Poetry Outloud competitions. After many open mics and events, he currently volunteers as scorekeeper at Show Me Poetry's Slam Competitions in Springfield, MO, and runs his own open mic "Poets' Corner" at Green House Coffee + Affogato Bar. He has been published in Half Mystic, Noctua Review, Prism Review, Doubly Mad, Interim, AAWW's The Margins, and more. He helped establish the Artist Empowerment Collective, an NPO that aims to amplify artists of color through cultural healing, community engagement, and education in Southwest Missouri.

Teddy Osei

"Teddy Osei is a ceramic sculptural artist and an educator whose work explores the delicate balance and tensions between traditional and contemporary culture of Ghana and the Western world. His work is characterized by the use of traditional African motifs and materials such as clay, Chinese plaid bags (Ghana-must-go), and, photography. He is particularly interested in exploring the relationship between the two cultures and how they can be used to create powerful and meaningful works of art. Teddy Osei's work has been featured in several exhibitions and his pieces can be found in major collections including the Changchun International Ceramic Museum and many others. Teddy Osei has exhibited his work in galleries and museums around the world, including The Cornell Arts and Entertainment Complex, Joplin, MO, Clay Art Center, Port Chester, NY, Maison Art Gallery, Beijing, China, and many others. He has received numerous awards and honors, including the Multi-cultural Fellowship-NCCECA, Carol Gorelick Scholarship-Penland, and many others. Teddy Osei's work is a powerful exploration of identity and culture, and his unique approach to art-making has made him an important artist in the contemporary art world. His works are a reminder of the importance of understanding the complexities of migration and cultural exchange, and they inspire viewers to think critically and creatively about their identities."

Zari Black

"I am Black & Queer. I am a future educator. I am a creator. I will never stick to one medium because I enjoy them all too much. I make what is on my mind and there usually is not an end goal. Do not be too hard on yourself by trying to stick to one thing. Be open to the mistakes you will make, and you might discover something new. Art isn’t something that I like to stress over. There is not a particular reason that makes me want to create new things, but I can not think of anything ever stopping me from wanting to."

Unessential Jane

Funk, fun love, and FREEDOM. Do you like any of these things? If so, you’ll love Unessential Jane. They are a five-piece, neo-soul, & revolutionary funk-inspired band from Springfield, MO pursuing originals and covers. Unessential Jane captivates people with syncopated rhythms, cohesive layers, and lively melodies. Their smooth harmonies complement the empowering lyrics with a style that will make you move, groove, and get your feet up off the ground! Catch their passionate performance and listen for that song reference we just made at the 3rd annual Show Your Colors on March 3rd

Correna Jane

Correna Jane is a 27 year old Hispanic  artist and activist. Born in San Bernardino, CA. Fusing passion for art with determination for change and human rights. Some titles they hold: Community organizer, Laughter Yoga Leader, singer, volunteer for On The Scene—an organization promoting local arts. She is also very proud to say she is helping lead the Arts and Culture team with local activist group Springfield Tenants Unite—a group fighting for tenants rights in a landlord town.  Correna spends the majority of her time creating fun, immersive ways to bring our community together, such as cooking homemade food for Tenant meetings, hosting a variety of events, and engaging with other activists and entertainers.  She is so excited and honored to be part of such useful organizations and is excited for all the changes we can bring together as we become closer with our community.

Vee Sanchez

Vee Sanchez is a community organizer, pianist / keyboardist, rhythm guitarist and vocalist based in Springfield MO. She began organizing Springfield tenants and workers in 2018, emphasizing the importance of the power of the people and believing in peace with justice. Vee got her musical start as a child learning classical piano pieces and performing with various choirs at school and church. However the demands of motherhood and work required that her musical and artistic endeavors be put on hold for a number of years. This finally changed when she was approached by Unessential Jane in 2022. Formed by a group of revolutionary artists and workers during the height of mass layoff during the 2020 covid economic fall out (unessential johns & janes), Vee was encouraged and inspired by leadership of the working class. With her creative spark reignited, Vee hopes to use her artistic endeavors as an extension of her political work to amplify ordinary people's lived experiences, their visions for a better world, and hopes to empower workers and tenants to believe in their own power to affect change.

J Byrd

One of J Byrd's earliest memories is banging on pots and pans as a little kid. J Byrd has a background in jazz and blues, playing in several bands and musicals. J Byrd recently performed in Kill Move Paradise as an actor. J Byrd is an organizer and leader with Springfield Tenants Unite. J Byrd's goal is to build a world where people like J Byrd can be themselves instead becoming what they have to be in order to survive.

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