'The culture is meant to be shared': _OFCOLOR presents the 2022 Black Art WKND
“This is our second iteration of Black Art WKND,” says _OFCOLOR cofounder RuDi Devino. Last year, the first Black Art WKND happened on Juneteenth, but this time _OFCOLOR wanted to put a little space between their event and all of the other Juneteenth celebrations happening in the community. “So we’re doing this event the week before," Devino says. "And then we’re going to be spending the following week on our social media, pushing and promoting all the other Juneteenth events that are going on in the community.”
Like last year’s inaugural event, the 2022 Black Art WKND, which takes place June 10 – 12 at Distribution Hall in east Austin, will be just what the name implies – a weekend-long celebration of Black art and culture. “Sometimes, you know, the name just has to tell exactly what it is,” Devino says. “But yeah, it’s going to be… more than 40 emerging contemporary and urban artists. And so the goal of the event is to honor the people, places, and practices of the Black community and also beyond.
“The theme for this year is ‘all kinds of Black.’” Devino says. “Many times — whether from within or without the Black community — many times we are placed in a box or pigeonholed where you can only be a certain type of Black. Or if you’re not this type of person who enjoys this type of thing, and you’re Black, then you don’t necessarily qualify as the right kind of Black. And what we wanted to make [Black Art WKND] is that, 'Yo, there’s so many different kinds of Black. We’re not a monolith.' In the Black community there are many different facets of many different people. So we just want to do something to more highlight that.”
Black Art WKND will start on Friday with a VIP night and then continue on Saturday and Sunday with visual art, music, DJs, food trucks, and vendors. “What’s also great is that, you know, even though this is centered around Black people, Black art, music, places, etc., it’s still for everyone,” Devino says. “You know, the culture is meant to be shared. I mean, even right now, hip hop is the biggest music genre in the world. And that’s shared all over the planet. And so why can’t the same thing happen for all of the other forms of art? It’s always going to be welcoming and open and we want people to come and experience something different.”
Devino says that _OFCOLOR has seen a big growth in their volunteer numbers in the past years, meaning that he’s been able to focus on the production side of this year’s Black Art WKND while others have taken charge of curating the art. “I’m basically going to be going into this like a regular event-goer,” he says. “So I’m just excited to see it.”
It’s a rare luxury for a festival organizer to get to enjoy their own event with sort of the same amount of stress-free enjoyment as an audience member. “I’m glad you said ‘sort of,’ because I’ll definitely still be doing work, putting up walls, but I get to have that excitement of not actually seeing the art just yet. So I’m really looking forward to seeing how everything turns out.”
At the time we spoke, there was about a week and a half to go before the festival, and Devino was eager to share the weekend with an audience. “I just hope they get an insight into different facets of Black culture,” he says. “Hopefully they have Black friends or know Black people. If not, I hope they meet some. But I just know people are going to go there and have a good time and enjoy themselves. So I’m just looking forward to seeing people of all different kinds of cultures. I feel that [_OFCOLOR] has been doing a good job with a lot of our experiences in not only serving the community that it’s made for but then also bringing people from outside that community to enjoy it as well.”