Black History Month Celebrates the Artistic Expressions of Black Culture

Abstract art

“As an Afro-Latino I feel that this is a celebration for me as well.” — Julio Berroa ’21

The theme for 2024’s Black History Month is “African Americans and the Arts.” This month we celebrate the vast influence African Americans have had on a variety of cultural expressions in the United States. 

At RIC, the Unity Center together with the Office of Alumni Relations are curating an art exhibit of works by African American RIC students and alumni at the Beestro.  

Headshot of Julio Berroa
Julio Berroa ’21

Julio Berroa ’21, a fine arts major, with a concentration in digital media design and photography, is among those exhibiting artwork. A self-identified Afro-Latino queer gay man, Berroa was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and has resided in Providence since 2012. 

One of his pieces is a print on a 50-inch square piece of fabric, titled “VENUS 2018.” “It’s a very vibrant, colorful work that I made while I was a student at RIC,” he says. “I also have a video installation in the exhibit called ‘METAWORLDS’ that incorporates the animated work I’ve done.” Berroa is also a musician, who, from time to time, incorporates his own music into his animations.

Julio Berroa artwork
“VENUS 2018,” print on fabric, by Julio Berroa
Julio Berroa Video Image
“METAWORLDS 2022,” screenshot of video, by Julio Berroa

For this young man, who as a child was told that being gay was bad, making art has been a source of freedom, he says. He describes his art as an experience, a poem and a statement all at once and that his desire to become an artist began when he was just a child. 

“The Dominican Republic places a big emphasis on the fine arts and makes sure that all communities have murals,” he says, “so I always grew up surrounded by artistic influences.”

“In my art, I use everyday objects. For example, in my piece ‘VENUS 2018,’ the statue of the Greek goddess was inspired by my visits to my aunt when I lived in the Dominican Republic. I remember she had one of these statues in her garden.” 

Currently, Berroa is working on a series of artistic expressions called “METACHROMATIC,” which he began when he was a student at RIC. 

He feels that his work is a representation of who he is and the things he stands for. “Being part of the Black History Month celebration at RIC is very empowering,” he says. “I feel fully seen in my identity. And as an Afro-Latino, this is a celebration for me as well.” 

Also see, “Julio Berroa: Artist of Many Genres.” 

View his bio and artwork on FilmFreeway.