The African American Society (Af-Am) brought Bowdoin’s activist past to the foreground during its annual art show. The theme was Activism and Social Justice, and it was one of the many events that have been scheduled on campus in honor of Black History Month.

In addition to student art, the show features photo albums, news clippings and other interesting artifacts from Bowdoin’s past in the Lamarche Gallery in David Saul Smith Union.

 “You see these snapshots of...the way things were, and you also see some continuity in some of the events that are still held,” said Justin Pearson ’17, who attended the show. “It’s good to see the past and sort of reflect on the present in preparation for what we would like to do in the future—in the African American Society and also as a campus.”

One notable historic item includes an Orient news clipping from when the College created Bowdoin Experience in an effort to bring more students of color to campus. 

Although the real photos and artifacts from Bowdoin’s past were captivating, the student art in the show cannot be overlooked. 

“You also see some very striking art...that’s really bringing us to this present day reality of the struggles in the African American community, the black community—with policing and violence and with the reality of the consistent oppression and reproduction of that oppression that is sort of like our everyday lives,” said Pearson.

Halfway through the show, six members of Slam Poet Society performed original poems on the stage. Each member recited one or two pieces about a wide variety of topics centered around setbacks, struggles and triumphs that the black community has gone through. 

Ashley Bomboka ’16, one of the members of the planning committee for Black History Month, explained that Student Activities was interested in joining forces to hold a reflective, impactful art exhibit this year. The two committees worked together to organize this event. 

Last year, Af-Am hosted a similar event in the Blue Gallery of Smith Union. The show displayed artifacts from the Af-Am’s past, as well as those from civil rights groups that had a particular impact on Bowdoin’s campus.

When Af-Am was deciding on a theme for the show, Bomboka said that it was almost a no-brainer.

“This year, most of the events around Black History Month in general have followed the social activist trend because that’s what Bowdoin has been building up to for the past two years,” she said.

For Pearson, the art show was a way for Af-Am to share its message through art and photographs. 

“We have to become more uncomfortable with the realities of inequality that are created just because of the way you look,” Pearson said. “This exhibit tries to tie in all of those, and it brings that to a place and a space where that conversation needs to be had.”