The artists on view in February at Kingston Gallery use their work to bring cultural and political rhetoric into the visual space, as they explore the concepts of the impact of militarized zones on communities, and Black Beauty in America. In the Center Gallery, Alpha Massaquoi Jr’s portraits are a celebration of Black Joy and Black Beauty in his show Black Noise.

Guest artist Alpha Massaquoi Jr’s exhibition Black Noise is a celebration of black beauty. For the artist, Black Joy and Black Beauty have been placed in the background by society as an ambient noise meant to be forgotten for too long. Black people are often reminded of their plight and struggle to be seen as humans and nothing less. Massaquoi’s goal is to highlight each figure's beauty and dignity and show a glimpse of the everyday struggle of being Black in America using facial expressions, lighting, and titles.

Black Noise

Planted by a stream of water,
they never did what they utter,
lost cost is what they called us,
cursed by the sins of our fathers,
like Ham, dang, Noah left a damned generation.
But, imma celebrate my people,
carving their faces in your mind with precision sharper than a needle,
using color Dirt and charcoal because that’s how they see us.
I know Abba sees us,
getting shot on TV by 12 cause, they can’t rule us
From the slang to the way we hang our drip, yeah, they want to be us.
Durag, gold chain & hair scarf, call us thugs, detained before eighteen
Keep us in the system and maintained
below the poverty line and in a death loop. (gun shots)

Alpha Massaquoi Jr. is a Baltimore-based artist who works primarily with large drawings made with charcoal and pastels. Alpha was born in West Africa, Liberia, as the youngest of four to an upper-middle-class family; his father worked as a florist for the United States embassy in Liberia, and his mother was a Fashion designer with a small charcoal business. At age fourteen, Alpha and his family moved to the U.S. seeking the "American dream" However, life wasn't easy, the 2008 recession just happened, and racism and colorism were new challenges Alpha and his family had to face.

He studied painting, drawing, and printmaking at Towson University, where he fell in love with charcoal as his primary medium. Private collectors have collected Alpha works. They have been a part of major group shows in the United States, which include Novo Legado & Black Creatives at The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. Alpha has also had two solo shows: Black Noise and Led by The Holy Spirit, which has made him a well-sought-out artist in Baltimore City. He founded Hot Sauce Artist Collective supports artists and bridging the gap between the everyday person and the arts. Alpha is currently an MFA candidate at Tufts SMFA.