Melissa KalfayanMelissa Kalfayan Artist’s Statement: In recent years racial tensions have arisen to the surface of the American psyche, due in large part to the high profile murders Michael Brown and others. However racial violence has forever been entwined with our nation’s history. The genocide of Native Americans and the enslavement of Africans being just two examples.

Yet the United States and the world at large has adopted African culture and artistic traditions. Almost all forms of American music have a basis in African musical traditions (Rock, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Rap, etc.). The fashion industry year after year appropriates styles from other cultures.

With all of my work I hope to communicate strong visceral emotion. Whether that be happiness, passion, or despair. My hope is that viewers, in particular those who do not belong to a minority group, may be able to experience the terror and marginalization that is enacted upon us by a society ingrained with systemic racism.

Lauren Mills, The Artologist, is a 15 year old, female artist with a degenerative eye condition called Lauren MillsNystagmus. This visual disability causes her eyes to shift from left to right continuously. This degenerative disease, over time, has rendered her legally blind. Lauren had not received any formal visual arts training, until 2014, where she was given the distinct honor, after a rigorous selection of youth from 35+ countries, to study at Interlochen Arts Academy Visual Arts Program.

In 2011, Lauren merged her art and her business mindset. She developed her own company, Artologi, and started a life long journey of art-trepreneuship. In 2013, her artistic dreams began to materialize even more, as she was fortunate enough to her her artwork exhibited in museums, such as the Charles H. Wright Museum in Detroit, MI, along with participation in a live painting performance with local professional artists.

Her story is being used as a teaching resource for Kaplan Inc., the Smithsonian TweenTribune and another teaching entity in Nigeria, Africa for the purpose of dispelling bullying and appreciating the beauty of being different and loving one’s self.

You can visit this amazing visually disable artist at or


Miryam JohnsonMiryam Johnson, originally from Akron, Ohio, is currently a student at Eastern Michigan University with a double major in Dance Performance and African American Studies.

She grew up training at performing arts public schools and was given the opportunity to train at the Alvin Ailey Summer Intensive- The Ailey Extension in 2010.

She most recently performed as a guest artist with People Dancing and Kristi Faulkner Dance, traveling with Kristi Faulkner Dance to Chicago for the Going Dutch Dance Festival.

Miryam currently teaches dance for the non-profit organization, Ypsilanti Creative Arts Program, which brings the arts to an otherwise overlooked demographic. Her focus is on arts activism, using her body and her art as a means of protest.

Artist Statement
Dance Performance (at the reception)

My work is comparing the lynchings of the past to the modern day shootings, too many of which are by the hands of the police. I called it Oh My America, because this is the reality of the US that Black and Brown people have to face daily. Thus being my version or reality of America.

Georgette Jones (Gette) currently lives in Ann Arbor, MI and has been painting professionally forGeorgette Jones over twenty years. She works primarily in acrylics on canvas; her sub-themes include the spiritual aspect of relationsips, wellness, love, nature, peace, prayer and personal growth. These subjects are included in her calligraphy, poetry, collage and writing, as well as her paintings.

Gette’s work has been featured in magazines, newspapers, television and radio. Her awards include Spirit of Detroit, Seagram’s Gin and 100 Most Influential Detroit Women, to name a few. Her work is in the collections of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History in Detroit and the Velma A. Walker Collection at Birmingham A&M University in Huntsville, AL. Also, her work is held by many serious local and some national private art collectors.

This is Georgette’s second year participating in the African-American History exhibit at RAC. You may view her work and read more about her at


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