Show Your Colors

The Artists Empowerment Collective has curated an exhibition inspired by artists of colors’ self-identity and expression. The show will feature visual and performance art that gives viewers a glimpse of the experience and results of the artists’ life events. The exhibition will be hosted at the Drury Pool Arts Center with an opening reception on Friday, March 4th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The show runs from March 4th through the 25th. For more information, call (417) 862-2787 or send an email to Keisha McMillen at 


Zari Black

1. (Who) I am… Zari Black!
I am Black & Queer. I am a future educator. I am a creator.
2. (What) I create…pieces that are all so different.
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.
3. (Why) I do this because… it is fun!
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.

Azaria Hogans 

1. (Who) I am…
I am a freelance dancer, choreographer, artist scholar, and educator. I hold a M.F.A. in dance from Texas Woman’s University where I expanded my research on black modern dance. I serve as a Board Member and the Manager of Resources and Archives for kNOwBOX dance, a digital dance company. Currently, I am an Assistant Professor at Missouri State University where I cover an array of classes. I have had the pleasure to present and perform works both nationally and internationally. 
2. (What) I create… 
As a choreographer focused in social awareness, I work to reach beyond the dance stage and also into communities and systems of learning. Dance is a vital art form that births meaningful discussion and later ignites social, political, and economic change.  I create works that embodies and expresses pressing issues such as gender and racial equity through modern contemporary, post modern, and African diasporic modern styles.
3. (Why) I do this because…
Some of my implication for dance making include, expanding notions of social awareness, pushing the limits of modern dance to encompass other cultural values, and digging deeper into my practices and values of communication, African diasporic movement histories, and social awareness into my dances. Personally, to dance and to create dance is to activate change and transformation.

Martheya Nygaard

1. (Who) I am…

I, Martheya Nygaard (she/her/hers), am a dance artist with my BFA and MFA in Dance interested in creating dance resources and art on and offline. I am the Co-Creator and Managing Director for kNOwBOX dance, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts service organization, and the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of mixtamtous, a multidisciplinary art collective. My work is rooted in cultivating “distortion” as an aesthetic philosophy, challenging and expanding notions of contemporary dance, by creating dance resources and content for both on and offline. I am passionate creating art that challenges those involved to think outside of the box. I have taught and presented work nationally and internationally in Canada, Mexico, Prague, and across the USA. I have published articles in Journal of Dance Education and Dance Education in Practice. 

2. (What) I create…

I am passionate about the use of digital technology as it relates to art making and sharing. I seek to explore the digital ecosystem as it relates to art via dance making, curating, writing, and service as evident in my work with kNOwBOX dance, mixtamotus, and other communities.

3. (Why) I do this because…

I make art in order to aid in the expansion of, and challenge audience possibilities of interpretation. I do this by integrating collaboration and technology. My artmaking is focused on conversing with my aesthetic philosophy of distortion: to find beauty in the ugly, grotesque, and complex. Through that, I challenge western balletic conventions and expand notions of what audiences expect when viewing dance via the stage, the screen, alternative venues, installations, and the digital space. I create unique choreography (Distortion Methods) deconstructing the body, twisting the body, and challenging movement patterns that produce a movement vocabulary that is uncomfortable, unnatural, and grotesque, providing the audience with an expanded subject matter that challenges the possibilities of what dance can look like. Not limiting vocabulary to clean lines and balletic inspired movement, I seek to connect to the long-standing tradition of creating art that challenges audience possibilities of interpretation by thinking outside of the box. I seek to challenge the audience of dance to re-engage with what it means to experience dance as an art form. This aesthetic experience provides a space for the audience to understand other perspectives, which is why creating art that expands the possibilities of interpretation is valuable. My aesthetic philosophy of distortion provides a framework for making art that expands the audience’s possibilities of interpretation. 

Reyna Mondragon

1. (Who) I am… I am Reyna Mondragon (she/her/hers) a dancer, choreographer, educator, and researcher. I hold by B.F.A and M.F.A in Dance. I serve as a Board of Directors, Manager of Community Engagement, and a Dance Behind the Screen Podcast Co-host for kNOwBOX dance (NB), In addition, I am the Co-Founder and Artistic Director for  mixtamotus. Currently I am a Full Time Lecturer in Dance at the University of North Texas, where I teach Modern Dance Teachnique, Music for Dancers, Tap, Pedagogy, Social Dance, Dance and Technology, Dance Kinesiology, and Choreography.
2. (What) I create… As a choreographer I use storytelling to create works that are centered around building, connecting, and inspiring different types of communities. I engage in conversations with the public and dancers to support the creative process. I utilize music as a form to lead or support the story that the dancers and I are collaborating to create.
3. (Why) I do this because… The reason I create dance is to collaborate and build community. I want to tell the stories of the voices that have never been heard. I believe those stories can act as the connectors to what nourishes the dance community but also to those who seek to understand what is beyond them.

Jin J. X

"Jin is a jazz guitarist and singer-songwriter from Chicago IL by way of Springfield MO. A musician of two decades he uses looping and jazz harmony to express and improvise. He also writes lyrics that touch on race, class, and matters of the heart."

Ernie Bedell Sr. 

Ernie Bedell Sr. Is a Black/Realist artist who creates cultural, informational awareness. His works reflect such statements because it’s a way to reveal, express and expose his cultural heritage. 

Ashley Laren 

I am a self-taught painter and business owner, running my art business, Ashley Laren Art. I choose to inspire others through my artistic journey. I specialize in abstract landscape paintings inspired by my own and others’ travels across America. I also extend this art style into jewelry making and candle painting. I create because I love adventure and creating art. The Colors I encounter as I travel through American landscapes inspires me and I choose to interpret my experiences on the canvas. 

Teddy Osei

Artist Statement
I am interested in the way cultures use the human body as a canvas and also a symbol of identity. In this body of work, I am examining the relationship between the physical form of the human body and surface embellishment, drawing connections between diverse cultures and my personal history. My process begins with constructing hand-built and wheel-thrown forms, then altering them by carving linear patterns on its surface. I use my work as a metaphor to investigate the delicate balance and tension between Ghanaian and Western traditional and contemporary culture.

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. He
uses clay as his primary medium in conjunction with performance and video art in engaging traditional and contemporary cultural discourse. He received his bachelor’s degree in Industrial Arts majoring in ceramics from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana in 2018 and an MA in Art from Eastern Illinois University. He is currently an MFA candidate at the Department of Art + Design, Missouri State University. He is the recipient of several awards and has exhibited his works internationally and nationally in Ghana, KNUST Ceramic Gallery, China, Changchun International Ceramic Museum, Brick City Gallery (MO), NEHMA (UT), Obelisk Home Gallery (MO), Corolla Gallery (MO) among others. He currently has three of his ceramic sculpture vessels in the permanent collection of Changchun International Ceramic Museum.

Sujash Purna

1. (Who) I am. . .

I am a Bangladeshi immigrant poet and photographer. I have been writing and taking pictures for a few years. My focus in photography usually encompasses the dramatic and the poetic

2. (What) I create. . .

I create images using ideas and collaborations with others. I tend to celebrate everyday life, small details just as much as I try to do in poetry. My goal is to look at simple moments of our lives with the magnification made of subtly dramatic angles.

3. (Why) I do this because…

I photograph mainly to make a statement and create resonance in our everyday life, striving to create something that becomes memorable despite the challenges from a fleeting world trapped in capitalism and harsh power dynamics.

J Byrd

1. (Who) I am…

Jonathan I go by J or J Byrd. I’m originally from Cincinnati Ohio. I moved to Springfield back in 2011.


2. (What) I create… 

Music, poetry, discussions, thoughts. I create thousands of thoughts.


3. (Why) I do this because…

I’ve been banging on pots since I can remember. I’ve wanted to be a musician and artist. Now, I want to use my voice to help amplify those who came before me and those who are here now in our demands for justice and dismantling systems of oppression.

Jocelyn Perez 

1. (Who) I am…a movement artist. 

2. (What) I create…to express my inner dialogue. My choreographies are the external of internal processing of emotions. 

3. (Why) I do this because…movement practices have been inherent in the how, the when, the why, the what in my life.  

Bishop Cortezz

Coming soon!

Mitsu Harter

Coming soon!

Shen Chen Hsieh

Coming soon!

ever thought about joining a committee?








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