By Cate Tarr
When someone passes away, it’s not every day that an art exhibition is organized to honor their memory. Yet that’s exactly what happened for Dzigbodi Akyea, a Madison College academic advisor of over 17 years who passed away in September of 2021. To memorialize her legacy, Madison College’s Black Women Affinity Group put together an art exhibition of 15-plus works in The Gallery at Truax titled “Honoring the Black Woman.”
Akyea was involved in the formation of the Black Women Affinity Group in 2019, and she spoke of wanting to host an exhibition during Black History Month honoring Black artists. Despite her wish, an exhibition wasn’t ready by February 2020, and COVID-19 derailed the possibility of holding exhibition in February 2021, says Jodie Williams, Madison College’s community engagement coordinator and member of the Black Women Affinity Group.
After Akyea’s passing, members of the group were eager to honor their colleague. Knowing her exhibition idea honoring Black artists still hadn’t come to fruition, a member of the group reached out to The Gallery at Truax, and they agreed to host the show in February 2022.
“We wanted to honor her vision [and] … her life and her contributions,” says Williams.
Artists include local elementary school students and an artist in Nigeria, to name a few. Works span from a painting of Breonna Taylor, to a photo featuring the simple outline of a Black woman to a woman wearing a crown.
“… We told the artists that they could create a piece or present something that was already created. … There are Black women in various forms. There’s photography of Black women. There is a collage of Black women … [from] three generations. It is a wide variety … [and] they are all very appropriate, and all very touching,” says Williams.
Akyea’s colleagues also created a scholarship in her honor to support Black women and are encouraging individuals to donate, as well as celebrate the Black artists in the gallery.
Aligning with Black History Month, the exhibit runs through February and is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays at The Gallery at Truax, 1701 Wright St.