West Kentucky Community and Technical College’s Student Art & Design Club has unveiled the 2020 honorees featured in its annual art exhibit titled “Defining Paducah: Honoring the Outstanding Legacy of Local African Americans.” This is the second year for this exhibit which pays tribute to Paducah’s notable African Americans in conjunction with the city’s observance of Black History Month.
“Defining Paducah: Honoring the Outstanding Legacy of Local African Americans,” is created by students under the direction of Tanya Neitzke and Emily Esau, two of the college’s Paducah School of Art and Design faculty and art club advisors.
“This is our second year hosting this exhibit,” says Tanya. “Our club had completed a holiday mural project downtown, and then the question was asked….. ‘Why don’t we do something in conjunction with Black History Month?’. We began brainstorming nationally known African American heroes but soon our focus shifted to a local level. In the process, we rediscovered some of Paducah’s forgotten history. Community partners introduced us to stories that we’d never heard.”
“We learned the impacts of our honorees and the challenges those individuals had to overcome. This project has produced more than just beautiful art; it has provided us a way to preserve some of Paducah’s rich history by documenting the contributions of some of Paducah’s most notable citizens while also inspiring those who hear their stories.”
Students from WKCTC’s Student & Art Design Club, students from regional middle and high schools, and members of the Oscar Cross Boys and Girls Club produced the art. Participating students were presented with enlarged photographs and biographies of the 2020 honorees. Students reproduced the portraits on large vinyl material with vibrant paint colors. The materials used allow the display to be shown to visitors 24 hours a day. We are celebrating in a creative and unique way with colorfully painted portraits and are looking forward to the downtown display being enjoyed around the clock,” added Emily.
To learn about this year’s honorees, visit the exhibit at 203 Broadway in downtown Paducah. The display is open to the public free of charge throughout the month of February. WKCTC’s Student Art & Design Club is already making preparation for next year’s exhibit and is seeking nominations for next year’s honorees. If you would like to nominate an individual to be recognized in 2021, contact Tanya at [email protected] or Emily at [email protected].
The exhibit coordinators would like to extend a special thank you to WKCTC, Paducah-McCracken Co. NAACP, Paducah Main Street, Shirlene Mundy, William Carter, Stewart Girl Ministries, and Beta Omega Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated for their support throughout the planning and execution of this year’s exhibit.