BIPOC student art exhibition amplifies minority voices


Neve Galmarini

The dancers of Fogo na Roupa brought joy to the room as they danced on stage, hands in the air with giant, welcoming smiles.

On Friday, Mar. 25, AWHS’ Students Taking Action Against Racism (STAAR) leadership class hosted its first Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) annual student art exhibition in the AWHS student center. The event, “Viewing the World in Different Perspectives”, featured artwork from various mediums, exhilarating dance performances, and delicious Salvadoran food.

The night kicked off with performances from AWHS band The Gargoyles, followed by an interview with San Rafael artist, Yuan Chen, who had a painting gallery on display. The interview was followed by dance performances from the Brazilian dance and drum Troupe, Fogo na Roupa. The ladies of Fogo na Roupa were dressed in bright, flowy, yellow and red dresses as they danced around the “stage” which was the front end of the student center. By the end, audience members were joining in and dancing on stage. Next came the Aztlan Dancers, Mixcoatl. Mixcoatl wore traditional pieces full of beads complete with a feathered headdress. The Mixcoatl group shook bell instruments similar to maracas as they moved around the stage. Both groups danced to invigoratingly loud and powerful music, drawing the attention of everyone in the room. 

The dancers of Mixcoatl share traditional dances and music at AWHS. The wide age variety of dancers included elderly members along with children. (Neve Galmarini)

Immigrant artists who are currently being detained at the Golden State Annex (private prisons or “detention centers”) contributed different mediums of artwork to the show as well.   These artists are not affiliated with AWHS, but STAAR wanted to amplify the voices of these individuals by displaying their artwork. One drawing, Ukraine – by Edmundo Navarrette, who is detained at Golden State Annex – tackled the horrible realities of living in Ukraine at this point in time. The painting, featuring an eyeball with a destroyed military vehicle in the center of it, immediately forces the viewer to consider the loss of life Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused. This drawing, like many other displayed pieces, drew current events into colorful, precise, and eye-catching artwork.

13 BIPOC student artists from AWHS represented at the exhibit, including pieces from Natalia Hernandez-Bernel, the STAAR student responsible for organizing and leading the event. The gallery also featured pieces from Southern Californian artist, Ashley Adams.

The dishes from Pupusería Blankita were phenomenal. Their pupusas provided a choice between bean, cheese, pork, spinach, and a variety of other fillings which was more than enough for anyone to be accommodated. On the side came complimentary cabbage, salsa, and sodas. The Pupusas were cooked on a black stone in front of the student center and came out steamy and crispy with deliciously melty cheese. 

Viewing the World in Different Perspectives was a melting pot of culture which raised BIPOC voices while exposing AWHS families to various cultures which they may not have encountered otherwise. Attending next year’s exhibition is a must for those wanting to be exposed to cultures from around the world.

Attendees roam around the student center before and between performances while admiring student artwork. (Neve Galmarini)