/* */ <img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1706078429670727&ev=PageView &noscript=1"/> /* */

4th Annual Social Justice Arts Festival Award Winners

January 25, 2021

The 4th Annual Social Justice Art Festival (SJAF) concluded on Thursday, January 21, with a live closing ceremony and artist awards. The festival is an annual event celebrating student artwork centered on social justice topics, created by James Madison College (JMC) Director of Diversity Programming and Student Engagement Dr. Amber Benton and hosted by JMC and the Residential College of Arts and Humanities. With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting in-person events, the SJAF committee and artists successfully adapted to host the festival virtually through the SJAF website and live Q&A chats with artists. 

The 2021 awardees, named by the SJAF jurors, SJAF committee, and Closing Ceremony attendees, are:


Most Inspiring Award: Visual Art – “Tracings” by Nicolei Gupit

The “Most Inspiring” awards are given to artists in visual and performance art categories. The winning pieces are selected by an external committee based on determined rubric. 

Nicolei Gupit is a Master of Fine Art (MFA) student in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design at the College of Arts and Letters. Nicolei’s installation art, “Tracings,” asks viewers to reflect on the educational and socioeconomic divides that shape experience today. It uses a projected image, correction tape, and chalk to express segregation and inequalities in education. Small, broken chalk represents people with limited access to quality education.


Most Inspiring Award: Performance Art – “Delight” by Sequoia Snyder

Sequoia Snyder is a Jazz Studies undergraduate student in the College of Music. Sequoia’s music, “REDWOOD-Delight,” is a reflection on the ways Black people use joy as a form of resistance and community power in a society that oppresses and marginalizes them. Instead of focusing on the overbearing weight of injustice we have experienced this year, Sequoia wanted to examine the generational memory and practice of smiling in spite of. “In a society that devalues our lives, taking joy in everyday life is an act of resistance as well as a mode of healing and affirmation within our communities.”


Most Out-of-the-Box Award – “A Call to Protect our Black Sisters” by Charlotte Bachelor

The “Out of the Box” award is given to the artist or performer with the most unique artistic concept or creative medium. The winning piece is selected by the SJAF committee based on originality, effort, level of risk, level of artistry and overall quality of work. In addition, the committee considers how the artist communicates their artistic vision in relationship to social justice starting from the application process through the completion of the festival.

Charlotte Bachelor is an undergraduate student studying Professional and Public Writing in the College of Arts and Letters. Charlotte’s prints and multiples are a call to protect all Black Sisters after the murder of Breonna Taylor and the subsequent capitalization of her name and image.  “My art relates to social justice because it's a called to defend as Malcolm X described ‘The Most Disrespected Person in America’ aka the Black woman. It's a call to still defend black women even when our names aren't in the headlines. This is a call to protect our Black sisters at all times.”


People’s Choice Award – “The Ism Project” by Jada Flowers

The “People’s Choice” award is given to the artist or performer with the best artistic display or performance based on overall quality, creativity and relationship to social justice. It is up to the voters to interpret what those elements mean and to cast a vote for the work that most closely aligns with that personal interpretation.

Jada Flowers is an undergraduate student in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences majoring in Advertising and Public Relations. Jada’s visual installation, “I See You In Me,” is an original art landscape that was created for viewers to see themselves as they stand before victims of gender and race-based violence. Symbolic messages were crafted by Jada to convey the artist’s emotions about the historical roots of racism and sexism still prevalent in our society. “The ISM Project relates to social justice by providing healing and awareness through radical art. Viewers are inspired to raise consciousness and inspire activism by connecting with the symbolic messages.”


To view all student artwork, visit sjaf.msu.edu.